WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational latest to cancel plans for spectators amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Yet another major tournament announced that it will be played without fans on Thursday — making it increasingly likely that the PGA Tour won’t be able to welcome them back at all this season.

The World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational officially announced that it won’t allow fans at its tournament later this month due to “an abundance of caution” amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is due to be the final WGC event of the season.

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It is the second tournament to make that move this week, along with the Memorial Tournament — which is set to kick off next Thursday. Tournament executive director Darrell Smith had long been “cautiously optimistic” about having fans on-site at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee, according to the Golf Channel.

“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 hold the event without spectators this year,” tournament executive director Darrell Smith said in a release, in part.

There were nearly 3.1 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Thursday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 132,000 deaths attributed to it. The country set a new single-day record by reporting more than 59,000 cases on Wednesday alone.

Tennessee had more than 55,500 cases on Thursday, and saw more than 2,000 new cases on Wednesday alone, a single-day record in the state. Shelby County, where TPC Southwind sits, had more than 12,700 cases — the second-most in the state.

Every PGA Tournament event since play resumed in June has been held without fans. The Memorial Tournament was set to become the first one to welcome them back — the tournament had a plan to let just 8,000 fans, or 20 percent of its normal capacity, in each day — but scrapped that plan on Monday as cases continued to spike both in the country and in Ohio. 

The PGA Championship, which was rescheduled to start Aug. 6, already announced it will be played without fans in San Francisco. The Tour does have a second tournament scheduled for the same week as the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational — the Barracuda Championship in Reno, Nevada — which could end up allowing fans. If it doesn’t, the earliest will be the Wyndham Championship on Aug. 13 in North Carolina, the final event of the season before the FedExCup Playoffs begin. 

The WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational is the final WGC event of the season, following the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai in October and the WGC-Mexico Championship in February, and is scheduled to start on July 30. The WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was canceled in March due to the pandemic.

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