The PGA Tour’s Return Offered a How-to Guide for Other Leagues

Posted by admin admin
      Options

Daniel Berger earned $1.35 million Sunday for winning the PGA Tour’s first tournament after a three-month layoff caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But on Monday Berger was entitled to something more precious: a first-class seat on the special flight the tour chartered to safely shuttle players and their caddies to the next event on the tour.

Space on the charter costs $600 per golfer — $300 for caddies — but first-class seats are cherished and subject to a defined pecking order based on players’ career achievements. Even with nearly $16 million in lifetime PGA Tour earnings, Berger would not likely have qualified. Hoisting Sunday’s championship trophy, however, meant Berger could jump the line for an upgrade.

Welcome to professional sports in a pandemic — winning still equates to status, especially if it comes with access to the cushiest part of safety protocols.

Last week, golf was the trial balloon in major American sports as one of the earliest to return to competition. If other leagues plotting their return this summer are wondering what lessons there are to be learned from the PGA Tour’s experience, here’s one: The athletes adjust, and always keep their eyes on the prize(s).

Days before his dramatic, come-from-behind victory at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Berger made other arrangements to travel to this week’s PGA Tour event, the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island, S.C., and declined his first class seat. The decision before Sunday’s final round was probably less based on a lack of self-belief and more likely a gesture of practicality since the leaderboard was stacked with a host of surging top golfers.

More than 100 other pro golfers did line up on Saturday to take the saliva test for the coronavirus, since a negative result was required in order to board the charter after the tournament. There were no evident objections to undergoing another test, an about-face among players who had done plenty of grumbling when the invasive swab test was administered earlier in the week upon their arrival in Fort Worth.

ImageThe tournament was held without fans allowed on the Colonial Country Club course, a decision likely to be replicated by other leagues returning to play.
The tournament was held without fans allowed on the Colonial Country Club course, a decision likely to be replicated by other leagues returning to play.Credit...Raymond Carlin Iii/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

The malleability of highly compensated golfers in the span of a few days might also be noteworthy for other sports organizing their returns to play. Elaborate testing — PGA Tour players were also screened daily for fever and had to fill out tracing questionnaires — was not viewed as an imposition but instead may have instilled a welcomed sense of security. In the end, after a lengthy time in some form of quarantine at home, some players considered the environment almost liberating.

“I knew that all of the employees and staff that were here were doing the same testing as I was and I felt completely safe,” said Berger, who called the coronavirus “such a big part of our lives for the last two months.”

But at last week’s tournament, Berger said: “I thought about the virus very few times.”

What was on Berger’s mind instead, during a time of considerable upheaval, revealed that some things never change.

“That you don’t get that many chances out here to win,” he said. “I’m glad, and proud, I hung in there.”

Berger won while being among those golfers who meticulously followed the recommended safety guidelines for the event. Not all of his brethren seemed as intent on adhering to stated protocols.

That the PGA Tour had tested every player and caddie — about 500 people total including officials — without a positive result may have emboldened the collective to believe they were in a coronavirus-free bubble because many players regularly fist-bumped each other and often stood shoulder-to-shoulder on tee boxes. Caddies and players regularly handed clubs back and forth. During the tournament, PGA Tour officials reminded caddies about the recommended procedures when it came to handling flagsticks, bunker rakes and players’ golf bags.

Other players were far more strict about adhering to safety restrictions, like not congregating in groups.

  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 12, 2020

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


“I went into the locker room one time on the first day,” said Bubba Watson, who stayed in a motor home during the tournament. “Then I never went back in there. I just washed my shoes and everything at my bus.”

As for the atmosphere of a sporting event held without spectators, a stipulation likely to be replicated in other pro sports, nearly every golfer acknowledged it was an oddity, before remarking that the entire experience of returning to a changed competitive environment after a long layoff had been an awkward adjustment. Some thought the quiet of a fan-free golf course might have actually helped them make the transition.

“Honestly, it might have been better for starting out because I was already nervous because I hadn’t played in a while,” said Justin Thomas, the world’s third-ranked golfer. “With fans it would have been really, nerve-racking.”

Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, said on Sunday that he had heard from some leaders of other pro sports leagues. “I know there’s a lot of people that are watching us,” Monahan said, “and hopefully they’re proud of what’s been done here.”

But Monahan also conceded that a successful resumption of the PGA Tour will not be complete until the tour proves it can safely take its show on the road this week to South Carolina and then to Connecticut and Michigan in the weeks after that. Charter flights, with perks like first-class upgrades for tournament winners, will help, but there are also many other factors at play.

“This is about a sustained return,” Monahan said.



Source: NYtimes.com