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Without spectators, Travelers Championship set to be held June 22-28 in Cromwell – The Collinsville Press
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Without spectators, Travelers Championship set to be held June 22-28 in Cromwell

It’s quiet on the 17th fairway at the TPC River Highlands but the PGA Tour hopes to be hosting the Travelers Championship in June. (Photo courtesy Travelers Championship)

CROMWELL, April 16, 2020 – The Travelers Championship golf tournament at the Tournament Players Club at River Highlands in Cromwell will be played as scheduled on June 22-28 without any spectators, the PGA announced Thursday.

The PGA plans to open the 2020 PGA Tour season on June 8-14 with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas and the first four tournaments of the season – including the Travelers Championship – will be played without any spectators in the galleries.

“Our first and foremost concern throughout the resumption of the PGA Tour schedule will be the safety and well-being of everyone connected to not just the PGA Tour but those communities where we play,” said Andy Pazder, the PGA Tour’s Chief Tournament and Competition Officer.

“We will play only when we are certain that it is safe and responsible to do that,” Pazder said. “We are monitoring very closely developments at the local level, city, state and federal level, and given that we’re a global organization with members all over the world, we’ll also pay very close attention to what’s happening outside the borders of the United States.”

Following the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas, the tour will go to the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, South Carolina before coming to Cromwell the following week.

The Travelers Championship will be a TV-only event broadcast on CBS and the Golf Channel. “Conducting the tournament without crowds on-site is in the best interest of protecting everyone, including the Connecticut community at large,” said Nathan Grube, tournament director of the Travelers Championship.

Fans who have purchased tournament tickets through Ticketmaster will automatically receive a full refund within 30 days.

Even without fans to cheer on the golfers, the Travelers Championship remains committed to their goal of raising money for local charities. The 2019 tournament raised more than $2.1 million for 150 local charities, including the tournament’s primary beneficiary last year – the Hole in the Wall Gang camp.

“We are committed to delivering a world-class PGA Tour event that provides 100% of net proceeds to worthy causes throughout the region,” Grube said. “This will include supporting our core charity partners, as well as organizations dedicated to COVID-19 relief efforts. Fans interested in contributing to tournament charities can do so by visiting TravelersChampionship.com.”

There could be some spectators. The TPC at River Highlands is built around more than 200 homes that overlook the golf course and those residents could be home during the tournament to at least step outside their homes and watch.

Tour officials are still working out the details of how these first four PGA tournaments will be run without spectators.

“We’re very closely monitoring the situation at the federal, state and local levels, and ultimately are going to follow every single recommendation that they make,” said Tyler Dennis, PGA Tour Director of Operations. “In terms of the access, our barometer is simply the health and safety of everyone involved, whether that be players, caddies, the media, broadcasters, cast, et cetera. So that’s our first priority, our number one priority, and we’re really in the process right now of doing a comprehensive review of all of the facets of what would go into that, and part of that includes an analysis of the number of people that would need to be in the venue.”

PGA officials didn’t have any answers at this time about testing individuals entering the course. But it is something they are considering and the availability of testing would be helpful.

“We see changes and developments being made in the world of testing,” Pazder said. “We see changes and developments being made in the world of testing (and the), available tests. We’re following very closely through the assistance of our expert medical advisors the development of more large-scale testing capabilities, more rapid-response type tests, whether it’s through finger pricks, testing for antibodies.

“We are aware that the FDA recently approved use of a saliva-based test. It gives us confidence that we will be able to develop a strong testing protocol that will mitigate risk as much as we possibly can. We know that there will also be further developments over the next eight weeks before we were to resume play,” Pazder said.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, the Travelers Championship had received commitments from four players among the top 10 in the world – No. 1 Rory McIlroy, No. 4 Justin Thomas, No. 6 Patrick Cantlay and No. 9 Patrick Reed, the 2018 Masters champion who won earlier this year at the WGC-Mexico Championship for his eighth career PGA victory.

Reed, who has played in Cromwell each year since his PGA debut in 2012, committed to the tournament on March 4.

Three-time tournament winner Bubba Watson also committed to the tournament in February.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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