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PGA Tour changes course: No fans allowed at Memorial

There won’t be fans at the Memorial Tournament after all.

The PGA Tour announced Monday that it has changed plans and will no longer allow spectators at next week’s event, a decision officials attributed to “the rapidly changing dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Memorial was expected to be the first Tour event with limited fans in attendance, as tournament officials worked with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to devise a plan that would call for up to 8,000 spectators per day at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Those numbers would have been approximately 20 percent of the tournament’s normal capacity, with all fans expected to wear face masks and large alleys between holes marked as one-way only. In lieu of grandstands, fans were expected to watch from hillside areas around greens and tees which would be closely monitored for capacity and social distancing.

Instead, the tournament will be the sixth Tour event in a row without spectators in attendance. This week’s Workday Charity Open, also played at Muirfield Village, was already expected to be played without fans present.

“Given the broader challenges communities are facing due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we need to stay focused on the No. 1 priority for our Return to Golf - the health and safety of all involved,” said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in a release. “While this was a difficult decision, it was one made collectively, and we are appreciative of the process undertaken to this point that will allow us to welcome on-site fans when the time is right.”

The 3M Open and PGA Championship have already announced plans to conduct their upcoming events without fans present. That means that the soonest spectators could return would be the week of July 30-Aug. 2, when the Tour conducts the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis and the Barracuda Championship in Reno.