Golf

PGA Championship at Harding Park to be played without fans

PGA Championship at Harding Park to be played without fans

Brooks Koepka will try to become the first player to win the PGA Championship three straight times in stroke play, and there won't be anyone at Harding Park to cheer him on.

The PGA of America confirmed Monday the first major of this most unusual year won't have spectators.

The PGA Championship, originally scheduled for May 14-17 in San Francisco, now is set for Aug. 6-9 and will be the first of three majors this year. The U.S. Open moved from June to Sept. 17-20 in New York, with the Masters moving to November two weeks before Thanksgiving. The British Open was canceled.

Still to be determined is whether the other two majors have fans. The PGA Tour resumed its schedule following its coronavirus-caused shutdown two weeks ago without fans, and it is not planning to have them until a reduced number July 16-19 at Memorial.

The PGA of America submitted its plan to not have spectators a week ago, and the San Francisco Chronicle said government and health officials approved it.

Mayor London N. Breed said the city was "thrilled" to welcome the century-old major to San Francisco. PGA of America officials were prepared to go elsewhere if playing in San Francisco would not allow health standards to be met.

"We are able to safely take this step toward reopening because of the ongoing sacrifices of our citizens," Breed said.

Those sacrifices now include watching only on TV for those who had planned to attend. This is the first major for Harding Park, the public course across the street from Olympic Club and now part of the TPC network. It previously held two World Golf Championships (won by Tiger Woods in 2005 and Rory McIlroy in 2015) and the Presidents Cup in 2009.

"While the local community cannot be with us physically on site, we will certainly carry their spirit of resilience and unity with us as we stage our major championship, on their behalf, for all the world to see and enjoy," said Seth Waugh, the CEO of the PGA of America.

Koepka won in 2018 at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, and he joined Woods as the only back-to-back champions in stroke play when he won last year at Bethpage Black on Long Island.

Woods tied for 29th, 14 shots behind, when he was going for a third straight PGA Championship title in 2001 in Atlanta. He did not have a chance at three in a row in 2008 because he had knee surgery and missed the last two majors.

Walter Hagen won four straight times from 1924-27 when the PGA Championship format was match play.

"We've got to do what we got to do to make us safe, keep the fans safe," Koepka said last week about a major with no fans. "Obviously, you'd like to have fans, but I understand with what's going on it might not be possible."

Meanwhile, the PGA of America is contacting those who bought tickets in advance to set up refunds. It said it will not process refunds for tickets bought from a secondary market platform.

The PGA Championship next year goes to Kiawah Island in South Carolina.

Dustin Johnson wins Travelers Championship for 21st career PGA Tour title

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Dustin Johnson wins Travelers Championship for 21st career PGA Tour title

Dustin Johnson won the Travelers Championship on Sunday to end a long drought and extend his career-long season victory streak to 13.

Johnson closed with a 3-under 67 for a one-stroke victory over Kevin Streelman at fan-free TPC River Highlands. Johnson last won in Mexico City in March 2019.

"I'm definitely proud of myself for continuing the streak and I want to keep it going," Johnson said. "It was a long time between wins, though, and, so, hopefully it won't be that long for the next one."

Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus each won in 17 consecutive years. Johnson failed to win in 2014, but is given credit for winning in the 2013-14 season from his victory in the fall of 2013 in Shanghai. The tour changed to a wraparound season in 2013.

Johnson tapped in for par on the par-4 18th, raised his ball to acknowledge the smattering of applause from course workers, officials and reporters, the only in-person witnesses allowed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

He finished at 19-under 261 for his 21st PGA Tour title.

Streelman also shot 67.

Streelman, who made seven straight birdies to win at TPC River Highlands in 2014, had a 37-foot birdie try on 18 that ended up just short and right.

He was two strokes behind Johnson on the 17th fairway when the weather horn blew for an hour-long storm delay.

Johnson came out of the delay and hit his tee shot on 16 into a greenside bunker. His second shot went well past the hole and made bogey to cut his lead to a stroke.

"I've had a few missed cuts, so to come back and finish a solo second is nice, but to to be that close and perform and be right there, I'm just a little disappointed right now," Streelman said.

Johnson was at 19 under when his tee shot on the par-4 15th went left and came inches from going into the signature lake that surrounds the finishing holes. His first pitch didn't make it to the green, and he hit the second to 4 feet to save par.

"It was lucky, but a still had to made a good up-and-down to make par," he said.

Mackenzie Hughes, who shot a first-round 60, had a 67 to tie for third with 23-year-old Will Gordon at 17 under. Hughes made 48-foot birdie putt on 17, which he started well left of the hole and watched as turned right to the flag. He finished the round with a much straighter 43-foot birdie putt on 18.

Gordon, who had no status on either the PGA Tour or the Korn Ferry Tour, had seven birdies in a 64. The finish was just enough to give him a special temporary card and unlimited exemptions for the rest of the season.

His lone bogey came on 17, and briefly dropped him to fourth place.

"I knew the higher the better, so I was watching the leaderboard coming in," he said.

Johnson started the day two strokes behind Brendon Todd, and took the lead after three straight birdies put him at 20 under after 10 holes.

Todd shot a 75 to tie for 11th at 13 under. He made a 7 on the par-4 12th.

Bryson DeChambeau shot a 68 to tie for sixth at 15 under.

Top-ranked Rory McIlroy tied for 11th at 13 under after a 67.

"There's been some really good stuff in there, but then just some really stupid mistakes," he said.

Phil Mickelson, playing his first tournament since turning 50, followed up his opening rounds of 64 and 63 with two 71s to finish at 11 under.

"I'm looking at this week as progress," he said. "Certainly the goal is to win golf tournaments, but keep in mind I've missed a bunch of cuts. I haven't played to the level I've wanted to, and this week I came in and had a lot of great finds. I hit a lot of good shots, hit a lot of good tee shots. My misses were much better."

There were seven COVID-19-related withdrawals from the Connecticut event, with two positive tests among players. Cameron Champ withdrew Tuesday and Denny McCarthy had a positive test on Friday.

The PGA Tour is making some tweaks to its coronavirus policies as a result of this week's issues. Players, caddies and anyone else considered "inside the bubble" will have to test negative before being allowed on the grounds of the Detroit Golf Club for the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Brooks Koepka, Graeme McDowell withdrawing from Travelers Championship over coronavirus concerns

Brooks Koepka, Graeme McDowell withdrawing from Travelers Championship over coronavirus concerns

The caddies for Brooks Koepka and Graeme McDowell have tested positive for the coronavirus, and McDowell withdrew Wednesday from the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.

McDowell said Koepka also was planning to withdraw, though the four-time major champion remained in the field early Wednesday afternoon.

"The snowball is getting a little bit bigger," McDowell said as he began the 1,200-mile drive from the TPC River Highlands to his home in Orlando, Florida.

McDowell tested negative, though he suspects he has the virus and decided to drive home to start his self-isolation. He said Ricky Elliott, a longtime friend from Northern Ireland and Koepka's caddie, received a positive result.

Cameron Champ tested positive on Tuesday, the second player to test positive in the last five days. Still to come are results from all players, caddies and essential personnel at the Travelers Championship, the third tournament since the PGA Tour ended its three-month shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

McDowell played a practice round Tuesday with Koepka and British Open champion Shane Lowry. McDowell said he heard from Lowry, whose test was negative.

"The problem is, people are out here passing tests when they could still have the virus," McDowell said. "That's what we're learning. Ricky passed a test on Monday and he just failed it this morning."

McDowell's caddie, Ken Comboy, never made it to Connecticut. McDowell missed the cut last week at the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. He felt a sore throat and reported it on the daily questionnaire, and then Comboy drove back to Hilton Head from Orlando to take another test. That was the quickest way to get the results, and he received them Tuesday night while waiting to fly.

McDowell says he was at a memorial service on June 15 with Comboy, Elliott and McDowell's trainer, after which they drove up to Hilton Head.

McDowell said he was feeling a little fatigued at the end of last week, which he wrote off to having not competed in a tournament for three months and then playing two straight weeks.

"I had been feeling a little off color, but not with alarm bells ringing until Kenny failed," he said.

The PGA Tour's return to tournaments started with a perfect record -- 487 tests for players arriving at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas; 98 players on the charter flight to South Carolina; 369 tests at Hilton Head Island. All came back negative.

Nick Watney was the first player to test positive, on Friday at the RBC Heritage. Watney, who had tested negative three days earlier, asked to be tested again when his Whoop wristband -- which measures various health metrics -- showed an increase in his respiratory rate.

Justin Thomas, who also wears the wristband, said the tour has acquired Whoop straps for players and caddies.

"It's crazy to say, but (without) his Whoop device we could have been screwed right now because he could have played the rest of the week and ended up contaminating or infecting many other people," Thomas said Wednesday.

Will Ahmed, the CEO and founder of Whoop, said the tour has acquired more than 1,000 of the straps and that the company was working to integrate the straps with "everyone in the PGA Tour universe."

McDowell said he would take two weeks off and hoped to return in July for the first of two weeks in Ohio. But that depends on if the PGA Tour is still going on.

Commissioner Jay Monahan scheduled a news conference for Wednesday afternoon.

"Do we shut down, start up in a month's time, two months' time? You come back and what's changed," McDowell said. "I think the tour is doing a pretty good job. It's just so difficult to control everybody outside the gates.

"We have to get through to the other side of this."