The first domino fell at about 10 p.m. Thursday when PGA Tour announced it was canceling the final three rounds of The Players Championship and the next three tournaments over concern about the spread of coronavirus.
Twelve hours later, at about 10 a.m. Friday, the mother-lode domino tumbled when Augusta National Golf Club ended its silence over the global concern about the coronavirus and announced it was postponing the 2020 Masters until a date yet to be determined.
“Postponed is a comforting word,’’ Xander Schauffele said Friday. “Canceled is another. As long as it says postponed, I think the players will find hope in that word and just wait for go time.’’
Schauffele’s take was spot on. Not only can players find hope in this, but also sports and golf fans, too. And hope is something that seems to be in shorter supply than those coronavirus test kits.
The fact that, at least as of now, the plan is for the Masters to play on at some point gives us all something to look forward to — the same way we’ll all anticipate the beginning of baseball season, whenever that comes.
The most unsettling element to this crisis is how open-ended it is, with undefined answers to when we can find our way back to normalcy. Because nothing is normal now, and doesn’t figure to be until further notice.
There had been speculation, after the PGA Tour canceled the next three tournaments leading up to the Masters, that the Masters would be played as scheduled, but without spectators — or “patrons’’ as they call them.
But with virtually every sports league and organization in America, including the PGA Tour, shutting down, there was pressure on the powers at Augusta National to follow.
With the PGA Tour schedule pretty packed throughout the spring and summer, and with a Ryder Cup scheduled to be played in late September, the speculation is the Masters would be played in October.
Also to be considered is the fact Augusta National closes annually after Memorial Day weekend in late May and doesn’t reopen until October.
As players milled in and out of TPC Sawgrass on Friday to clean out their lockers and head home, the theme regarding the Masters was consistent. There was perspective as well as sorrow the event won’t take place as scheduled.
“I think there’s bigger problems in the world right now than whether we play the Masters or not,’’ Jon Rahm said.
“I’m bummed,’’ Justin Thomas said. “Selfishly I want to play, but this is way, way beyond that. That’s my favorite tournament of the year, so I obviously have hopes that we’ll get to play it, and whenever we do, we do. I don’t care if it’s 25 degrees and nobody is there, I’m going to go play it with a chance to win the Masters.’’
Kevin Na said the suspension of golf “still hasn’t sunk in yet.’’
“I think everybody’s health is more important than just one event,’’ he said. “I know this is The Players and it’s a big deal, but I think they made the right call. The world is not coming to an end, but it’s a little reality check. Golf is not that big of a deal when you look around at what’s going on in the world.’’
Billy Horschel called Friday “a sad day in the sports world.’’
“When we have situations like this, everyone can rely on sports to sort of take their mind off the tragedy at hand or the situation at hand in the world, and right now we don’t have that,’’ he said.
“There’s a lot of crazy things going on on social media — you know, [like] the world is going to end,’’ Tony Finau said. “Obviously, we feel like that at this point in the golf community with the Masters being postponed. But I’m happy that it didn’t say it was canceled. So, hopefully we play in the future.’’
That, of course, is everyone’s hope.