PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Rory McIlroy is fine with the PGA Tour’s decision to continue playing golf without spectators, but he called for all players and caddies to be tested for the coronavirus and said if any one of them tests positive, “we need to shut it down.”
McIlroy, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, also said Thursday after his first round at the Players Championship that if the Masters goes ahead as scheduled next month, it needs to do so without spectators.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan earlier Thursday announced that no spectators would be permitted at TPC Sawgrass and that subsequent tournaments on the PGA Tour the next three weeks would also be played without fans watching the action.
“It’s a scary time, and I think the PGA Tour have taken a step in the right direction and I think we just have to take it day by day,” McIlroy said after birdieing his last three holes to shoot even-par 72 and finish 9 shots back of tournament leader Hideki Matsuyama.
“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.”
And if one person tests positive?
“We need to shut it down then,” McIlroy said.
Asked if he has thought much about the Masters, which is scheduled to begin on April 9, McIlroy said: “Yeah, I have a little bit. I don’t see how they can let spectators in if they plan to play at this point.”
Augusta National has offered no update on the tournament status since chairman Fred Ridley said last week that the year’s first major would go on as scheduled.
Monahan announced Thursday that in addition to the Players Championship, next week’s Valspar Championship, then the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship and the Valero Texas Open — the next three events leading to the Masters — would be played without spectators.