US Government assists overseas players to return to the PGA Tour

Lee Westwood, Tommy Fleetwood and Adam Scott have already said that they won’t be re-joining the PGA Tour when it resumes tournament play on June 11.

But on Friday the US Homeland Security Department issued an order making it easier for professional athletes competing in the United States from overseas countries to enter the country. This includes members of the PGA and LPGA Tours (as well as ATP and WTA tennis professionals, Major League baseball and NBA and WNBA basketball). Also included are essential staff and families, although I had heard that families were not to be present at PGA Tour events.

This means that these athletes residing in other countries are exempt from normal entry restrictions but still have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival (and 14 days on arrival back to the UK for British players intending to compete such as Matthew Fitzpatrick).

The acting Head of Homeland Security said “Professional sports events provide much needed economic benefits, national unity and pride. Americans need their sports. It’s time to re open the economy and get professional athletes back to work, The PGA Tour, which resumes on June 11 with the Charles Schwab Cup, has 25 members living outside the US. The LPGA will resume on June 23 with the Marathon Classic.

The PGA Tour will be offering a chartered 737 to transport players on Monday from one tour stop to the next for $600 a seat. The Tour are strongly encouraging players to take advantage of this. There will be no middle seat in each row, passengers will wear face coverings and must test negative at a test taken before boarding.

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R&A announce £7 million fund to help golf

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Welcome news for golf clubs and facilities came from the R&A today when the governing body announced a £7 million Covid-19 Support Fund. Clubs and golf facilities who are facing challenging financial situations can apply for help through the national associations.

R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers said that “the pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on golf.Many clubs are facing dire situations through no fault of their own…we have a responsibility to do what we can to help national associations and other key bodies to provide support. Club golf is the bedrock of our sport and the fund will help begin the process of recovery.

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Driving Relief: $5.5 million raised for the frontline

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So it all came down to an extra hole.  Rory and Dustin and Rickie and Matthew headed back to the 121 yard 17th and Rory hit a stunning wedge shot closest to to the pin. He and partner Dustin Johnson took 11 skins in total and $1.8 million and Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff took 7 skins and $1.15 million. Wolff took both prizes for longest drives on the 2nd and 14th holes and with donations from corporate sponsors a total of $5,503,959 was donated to the two charities supporting frontline workers.

Dustin Johnson is never forthcoming to the media about what he thinks or feels, he gave out a hippy ish “It’s nice to be part of something so cool. Everything is going to be weird for some time”. McIlroy had commented earlier that the thing he loves the most about DJ is how he “just doesn’t care”, but in this instance he sincerely did care about the cause. In context though, what Rory meant was that it is a huge asset not to care so much in golf. To have a selective memory so setbacks don’t affect him.  Yes, the most athletic of all the top players with a mental attitude that sets him apart. Peace out Dustin.

So the next step towards the re opening of tournament golf on June 11 at the Charles Schwab Cup at Colonial in Texas, is this. The Match (again). Let’s hope that next Sunday Tiger and Phil will provide something a lot more entertaining than when they did it last time. They will be with NFL Quarterbacks Peyton Manning who will partner Tiger

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and Tom Brady who will partner Phil, and the trash talk on social media has already begun with Brady posting this picture of the four contestants.

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This will be a different beast altogether from Driving Relief, with a lot of betting categories already being set up see BetOnline.ag. It’s another step forward to normalcy, as golf betting is huge business, but it will still be golf played in a bubble. When the PGA Tour resumes in June there will be no spectators, off site media and most odd of all no player families travelling with them. And 37 pages of guidance from the tour about what can and cannot be done. Apparently the President had said he wanted golf to return to normal a month later (from June) with tens of thousands of people standing on top of each other and we dont want them having to wear masks”. Seriously.

Well at least perhaps Mickelson will be doing the right thing. Some years ago, when his dislike of Tiger was at its peak, he came off the 18th after shaking hands with him at the end of their round and was heard on camera saying “be sure and wash your hands now”.

Good advice for now.

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Driving Relief – what we’re seeing

First of all, it is quite something to see live golf. We’re grateful and also grateful to our 4 professionals who are raising millions for nurses, doctors and patients in the United States, both through the sponsors and the generosity of the public pledging support.

We’re seeing the exclusive Seminole for the first time on TV. I have dressed for the occasion in my Seminole cap

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This compact, perfect Donald Ross course was reclaimed from just 140 acres of swampland and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have done some remodelling building in sandy scrubland which seemed to confuse Matthew Wolff when one of his tee shots, which were tending to the right, landed in there. “This isn’t a waste bunker is it?” he asked the nearby official, to see if he could get relief. No, it was tricky rough, the like of which we’re not used to seeing. The greens are a little soft so the ball is stopping quickly. Some remarkable features like the 2nd green tucked into the side of a hill, a very tricky approach shot with a long drive competition for money on this hole making the players bomb their drives into a less strategic position and a tricky pin placement on the back of the green. It looks a fabulous layout which will test every shot. Although the temperature is hot, 87 degrees, the wind is blowing off the ocean, making club selection especially testing as – they have no caddie to help! We’re seeing the course with only six cameras, a drone and a helicopter giving aerial shots.

And this is another thing. No caddies means theyre all carrying their own bags. Rory has his in a double harness like a female caddie does. Rickie was using a range finder to judge distance. They’re miked up, because, although this is a big deal to raise money, it’s also entertainment. We’re hearing what they would normally tell their caddies. McIlroy, who has just turned 31, complained of his aches and pains “I’m getting old”. He also needled the opponents. We’re seeing them in shorts. Actor Bill Murray was brought in via skype to do some colour commentary. “They look almost human. Normally, even if it’s 102 degrees the PGA Tour makes them play in long trousers”.

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We’re seeing this amazing swing of Matthew Woolff which the club reaches vertical instead of horizontal at the top. He does things differently.

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And so I was enjoying this enormously, watching heartwarming new sponsors double the prize donation on the 17th hole.

Then the President of the United States joined in on the telephone.

And at that point I switched off. I’ll finish tomorrow when I can finish watching the recording and fast forward through that bit…

 

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TaylorMade Driving Relief brings golf back

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We can’t wait for 7pm here in the UK for the return of live golf for a worthy cause. A rare chance to see the exclusive Donald Ross designed Seminole Golf Club and to watch a skins match which will raise funds for the American Nurses Foundation and the CDC Foundation which works to control infectious diseases.

The PGA Tour have assured it will be a safe event. No fans will be present and all players, officials and broadcasters will be tested for Coronavirus and have temperature checks. Social distancing will be in place and rule officials will tend sanitised flags and no bunkers will be raked after use.

Sponsors TaylorMade, United Health Group and Farmers Insurance have put together a prize fund of over $3 million which gets distributed like this. Each player – Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson on one team and Rickie Fowler and Matthew Woolf on the other – plays his own ball. Lowest score wins the skin or is carried over if the scores are equal, The first six holes are worth $50,000 each, the next ten $100,000, the 17th short hole is worth $200,000 and the 18th $500,000. $25,000 for each birdie, $50,000 for each eagle and $150,000 for an albatross or hole in one. Longest drives earn $100,000 on the 2nd hole and $150,000 on the 14th. If the teams are tied on the 18th they play the 17th hole again to find the lowest score.

With amateur golf now restored since last Wednesday, we’re back. June 11th for the re-start of the PGA Tour schedule.

 

 

 

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Message from the Ryder Cup Captains

A message to everyone,

Every two years Europe and the United States of America come together. We are united by the shared values of sportsmanship and our desire to defeat a formidable opponent. In doing so, we witness some incredible displays of determination, passion and spirit.

When Europe takes on the United States in The Ryder Cup it is always fiercely contested but it is just golf. It is not a matter of life and death.

Fighting Coronavirus is.

Today Europe and the United States are united like never before. We have a formidable opponent, but it is not each other. It is like nothing we have ever faced before.

Defeating Coronavirus won’t happen in three days. It won’t happen because of the efforts of only 12 men. It needs all of us to play our part. So while Europe and the America once again come together, we also stand as one with all of our friends around the world during this unprecedented global crisis.

As Ryder Cup Captains, we proudly represent all the players, caddies, staff and partners of the European Tour and PGA of America and we speak on behalf of every single one of them when we say that our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been affected.

We also speak for them when we say that we are all moved by the incredible determination, passion and spirit we are witnessing from our health professionals, key workers and everyone else on the front line in this battle. We are all indebted to the incredible work they are all doing.

Last week, some of the world’s leading golfers featured in a social media video thanking our heroes. We want to take this opportunity to reiterate our sincere gratitude to all of you once more.

Today is #WorldHealthDay. It should also be a day when we are all at Augusta National for the first Major of the 2020 season, but golf is insignificant right now. Instead of celebrating someone in a Green Jacket, this week we rightly celebrate those selfless people around the world wearing scrubs, wearing white coats, wearing supermarket uniforms, together with everyone else working round the clock to protect us and keep the world functioning. You are our true heroes.

For them, we urge everyone to please stay safe, stay healthy and stay home. And stand united.

Padraig Harrington, European Ryder Cup Captain and Steve Stricker, United States Ryder Cup Captain

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Honours Even after First Day Foursomes at the Walker Cup

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The 47th Walker Cup matches at Royal Liverpool GC got off to a fine start this morning at Hoylake with each match finishing on the 17th green and the score was 2-2. The biannual amateur match between Great Britain and Ireland and the United States started in benign conditions.

European Tour winner Matt Fitzpatrick was in the gallery of his younger brother Alex who partnered Conor Purcell to a 2&1 victory over Andy Ogiltree and John Augenstein. The United States Team gained the next point with John Pak, who admitted to being nervous playing in front of the large galleries, and Isiah Sakunda who beat Sandy Scott and Euan Walker.

GB&I’s Harry Hall and Connor Gough took the third point 2&1 beating Stewart Hagestad and Akshay Bhatia and Brandon Wu and Alex Smalley won 2&1 against Tom Sloman and Thomas Plumb.

The afternoon singles draw is as follows:

United States vs. Great Britain & Ireland
Cole Hammer vs. Alex Fitzpatrick
Steven Fisk vs. Euan Walker
Andy Ogletree vs. Sandy Scott
John Augenstein vs. Conor Purcell
John Pak vs. James Sugrue
Isaiah Salinda vs. Conor Gough
Alex Smalley vs. Caolan Rafferty
Brandon Wu vs. Tom Sloman

This means that all 12 men on both sides will have played on the first day.

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