PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — After playing the first round of the Players Championship and announcing the tournament would continue with no spectators, the PGA Tour late Thursday night changed course and elected to cancel the rest of the tournament due to the coronavirus.
The tour also announced it would be canceling the next three events on the PGA Tour schedule: the Valspar Championship, the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and the Valero Texas Open.
“Based on the rapidly changing situation, the Players Championship has been canceled,” the tour said in a text notifying players Thursday night. “PGA Tour events through the Valero Texas Open are also canceled.”
The $15 million Players Championship is the PGA Tour’s flagship event.
“It is with regret that we are announcing the cancellation of THE PLAYERS Championship,” the tour said in a statement. “We have also decided to cancel all PGA TOUR events — across all of our Tours — in the coming weeks, through the Valero Texas Open.
“We have pledged from the start to be responsible, thoughtful and transparent with our decision process. We did everything possible to create a safe environment for our players in order to continue the event throughout the weekend, and we were endeavoring to give our fans a much-needed respite from the current climate.
“But at this point — and as the situation continues to rapidly change — the right thing to do for our players and our fans is to pause.”
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan will have a news conference Friday morning.
Earlier Thursday, Monahan, after consulting with President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, said he felt comfortable with the idea of playing the final three rounds of the Players Championship without spectators, but that the tour would continue to monitor the situation.
The cancellation came just hours after Rory McIlroy, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, called for all players and caddies to be tested for the coronavirus and said that if any one of them tested positive, “we need to shut it down.”
“More than anything, everyone needs to get tested,” McIlroy said. “I saw there’s commercial labs now that are testing at some capacity, I guess, and for us to keep playing on the PGA Tour, all the tour players and people who are involved need to get tested and make sure no one’s got it.
“Because everyone knows you can have it and not have symptoms and pass it on to someone who’s more susceptible to getting very ill from it.”
Kevin Kisner said after the announcement that he has confidence in Monahan to guide the tour.
“It’s a very difficult decision in unchartered waters,” Kisner said. “We trust and believe in Jay to make the best decisions for all of us and our business.”