Spectators will not be allowed to attend the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, executive director Darrell Smith told The Memphis Commercial Appeal Thursday.
The decision comes days after the PGA Tour announced fans would not be permitted at the Memorial Tournament next week, as play continues amid the coronavirus pandemic. Spectators have not been on hand for any of the Tour’s tournaments since it returned to play in June.
Memphis’ four-day WGC event is scheduled to begin July 30 at TPC Southwind and will be broadcast on Golf Channel and CBS.
“The well-being of everyone involved with the event and our community remains our top priority this year, and while we had developed a robust health and safety plan that would include limited spectators, we ultimately felt it was best to host the event without spectators this year,” Smith said in a press release. “These decisions are never easy, and we would like to thank the city of Memphis, Shelby County, FedEx and the Tour for their collaboration. We are still very excited about showcasing the world’s best players and the City of Memphis to a global audience and continuing our mission of raising funds and awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through the event.”
Smith said last month he was “cautiously optimistic” a limited gallery would be allowed to watch many of the world’s top golfers compete. But, as COVID-19 numbers have increased in recent weeks and some golfers have withdrawn from competition, Smith said playing without fans became the safest option.
Those who have already purchased tickets to the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational will be automatically refunded by their original method of purchase. For more information on the refund policy, visit WGCFedEx.com.
Also, before the Travelers Championship, Graeme McDowell and Brooks Koepka withdrew after their caddies tested positive. Webb Simpson withdrew after a member of his family tested positive.
Record crowds flocked to the Memphis area’s first WGC event last year to see Brooks Koepka pull away from a star-studded field that included Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson. Dustin Johnson and Daniel Berger, who have both won the tournament at TPC Southwind twice before, have each said they plan to participate this year. Berger is coming off a win at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial last month.
Rickie Fowler, one of the few high-profile PGA golfers who did not play in last year’s WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, said on ESPN Radio’s “Golic and Wingo” last week that he plans to make the trip to the Mid-South this year.
Reach sports writer Jason Munz at email@example.com or on Twitter @munzly.