PGA is back; new safety guidelines
CHICAGO - Kevin Streelman has been doing the stay-at-home dad thing, such as comforting daughter Sophia as she watched little brother Rhett get a buzz cut.
It will grow back, he promised.
Also making a comeback: Streelman's vocation and passion - professional golf.
The three-time PGA Tour winner is playing this week in the Scottsdale Open, a Tuesday-Thursday minitour event near his Arizona home.
"I'm itching to play," Streelman said Monday by telephone. "I miss the competition."
His buddy Brian Urlacher is with him to caddie. The Bears Hall of Famer texted: "I'm not sure how I can lend anything positive or helpful to his game, but I'll try."
The $130,000-purse event - roughly 1 percent of last year's U.S. Open prize money - drew several PGA Tour pros thirsting for some birdies, normalcy and fine-tuning in anticipation of big-money events starting next month.
Professional golf is back, and the PGA Tour returns in four weeks. Here's a primer to get you ready.
Star power this Sunday
Enough of "Golf's Greatest Rounds" programming. Live golf returns to your TV screen Sunday (1-5 p.m., NBC-5 and Golf Channel) with the TaylorMade Driving Relief charity skins match.
World No. 1 Rory McIlory will team with Dustin Johnson against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff, Fowler's fellow Oklahoma State product. Wolff, 21, was the NCAA individual champion last year and then won the 3M Open in Minnesota in July in his third PGA Tour start as a pro.
"I hope we can provide some respite and entertainment for those tuning in across the globe," McIlroy said.
Golf nerds are fired up for the TV debut of Seminole, a 1929 Donald Ross design in Juno Beach, Fla., that's ranked 12th on Golf Digest's list of America's Greatest Courses.
Mike Tirico will provide commentary from his home in Michigan. Analyst Paul Azinger also will be off site.
Serious star power next Sunday
A second COVID-19 relief fundraiser will take place May 24, and this one features four of the world's most famous athletes: Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning will duel Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in "The Match: Champions for Charity."
TBS and TNT will televise the competition, which features nine holes of best ball and nine of modified alternate shot.
"I actually thought I was going to be Tiger's partner," Brady said. "But Peyton's dad called and switched the teams."
Mickelson defeated Woods two years ago in a goofy $9 million, 22-hole match in Las Vegas that concluded under floodlights with players firing wedges from the practice green at Shadow Creek.
This one will take place at Woods' home course, Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla.
Sportsbooks installed Woods and Manning as minus-175 favorites (bet $175 to win $100), with Brady and Manning plus-150. Manning is said to be a 6-handicap, Brady an 8.
Manning won the promotional video call, saying: "I'll be honest, I've never played Tom very well on his home turf. Maybe this is considered a neutral site. I would have loved to have had this in a place where they don't like Tom very much - Indianapolis, Denver, Boston after he betrayed them and broke their hearts. ... But I think the teams are fair. Phil chose the right partner in Tom. Together they have 11 championships. Tiger and I have 17, the way I counted it ... (his) 15 plus my two."
The LPGA Tour is not scheduled to restart until July 15 in Michigan, but a Korean LPGA Tour major is being contested without spectators starting Thursday. The KLPGA Championship features three of the world's top 10 players - Sung Hyun Park, Sei Young Kim and Jeongeun Lee6 - and a $2.45 million purse.
A late April event at Maridoe Golf Club outside Dallas raised more than $20,000 for the club's caddie fund. So organizers decided to hold a second tournament May 19-21.
Club member Tony Romo will play, as will Texan Jordan Spieth and fellow PGA Tour pros Scottie Scheffler and Viktor Hovland. Carts and caddies will be prohibited in the spirit of social distancing, and a walking scorer with each group will rake bunkers.
Brave new world
The PGA Tour conducted a media conference call Wednesday in which tour officials uttered the words "safe" and "safety" 25 times.
They outlined the 37-page document given to players Tuesday to get them ready for the tour's restart: the Charles Schwab Challenge on June 11-14 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, with no spectators.
"To be perfectly clear," said Tyler Dennis, the tour's operations chief, "we're not going to play if we can't do it in a safe and healthy environment for all of our constituents."
Those plans include:
– COVID-19 testing of players and caddies (nasal swab or saliva) before they travel, once they arrive and every day (questionnaire and thermal reading) before competition. A positive test triggers at least 10 days of self-isolation or two negative test results at least 24 hours apart.
– Also to be tested: All PGA Tour staff, independent trainers, clubhouse attendants and security and hospitality officials.
– A ton of restrictions at the course, including changes to practice areas and media protocols. All interviews will be conducted at an outdoor "flash" area with microphones sanitized between uses.
– Players and caddies must make "every effort" to distance during the round, with players encouraged to remove their own clubs from the bag. Caddies can touch flag sticks and bunker rakes but must clean them after use. All tees and greens will have sanitizer stations. And no shaking hands after the round.
"Things will look different but not crazy different," said Streelman, who's on the tour's 16-member Player Advisory Council. "We're doing all we can to put out a great product while staying safe."
Family members won't be allowed to attend the first four events: Colonial, the RBC Heritage (Hilton Head Island, S.C.), the Travelers Championship (Cromwell, Conn.) and the Rocket Mortgage Classic (Detroit).
There is the potential for spectators the following week (July 9-12) at an in-state event, the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill.
"Hopefully the summer slows it down and herd immunity slows it down," Streelman said, "and we can get on living our lives."
Streelman _ who caddied at Chicago Golf Club, played at Duke and set a PGA Tour record by closing out a round in the 2014 Travelers with seven straight birdies _ plans to take the tour's charter jet from the first to second and second to third events.
Asked if 1 percent of him is concerned for his safety, he replied: "There is one percent, sure. I'm really not worried about anything golf-wise. It's just the travel. What will life look like out there? We won't really leave the hotel except to play golf, so it will be Netflix and Amazon Prime time.
"It will make it much more lonely for three straight weeks, and then there's concern about bringing anything back to our families from that last airplane ride. But it's my job and I'm getting incredible family time right now. My wife and kids understand I will have to be gone."