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Competitive golf is closer than you might think.
Next week’s Desert Financial Credit Union Scottsdale AZ Open isn’t a PGA Tour event but it will have plenty of Tour flavor with two-time Tour winner Kevin Streelman, Alex Cejka, Joel Dahmen and Nate Lashley scheduled to play the 54-hole event beginning Monday at Talking Stick Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Tournament director Ryan Pray said his decision to hold the event during the coronavirus pandemic was based on state guidelines.
“The biggest thing is we watched what the state of Arizona and what our governor was following for the golf courses and the entire time he has been recommending people get out to play golf. He listed golf as an essential business,” Pray told GolfChannel.com. “I felt with our dates we might be out of the [coronavirus] cloud. We might be able to make it work.”
Unlike the Tour’s return to competition next month at the Charles Schwab Challenge there will be no testing for Covid-19 at the AZ Open. Instead, Pray had each competitor in the 162-player field sign a “waiver” stating that they haven’t had certain symptoms, they haven’t travelled to certain coronavirus hotspots and they will maintain social distancing during the event.
The general public will not be allowed on the course, although there will be a few sponsors in attendance, and the event will have a greater interval between threesomes and only one group at a time will be allowed on a tee.
Pray said 90 percent of the field will travel to the event by car and explained that some travel remains problematic because of the pandemic.
“I’ve had players withdraw. Players who were coming in from New York or other hot spots who have decided not to play due to travel restrictions, due to not wanting to infect someone if they didn’t know if they had it,” he said.