Exhibitions over; competitive golf next on the tee
The two blockbuster exhibition matches the last two weeks have shown that televised golf at a high level can be safely played - with four competitors.
Now, the PGA Tour has 17 days to continue preparations for two tournaments that will signal a return to full-field golf, in which every shot counts.
The First Coast will play a big part in that re-start.
Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning defeated Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady 1-up on Sunday at the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound in the "Champions for Charity" match that pitted the two major golf champions and the two Super Bowl quarterbacks.
Last week, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson beat Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in a skins game that lasted 19 holes and was won by McIlroy on a closest-to-the-pin tiebreaker, with six skins on the line.
All told, more than $25.5 million was raised for charity _ $20 million of it in the match between Woods-Manning and Mickelson-Brady.
Ratings will prove to be high for both matches when the numbers for Sunday's match are released later this week, indicating the public's hunger for televised golf. Two iconic golf courses, the Medalist and the Seminole Golf Club, were revealed through the TV broadcasts.
Now it gets real on June 14, when two tournaments are scheduled to herald the return of competitive tournament golf: the PGA Tour's Schwab Challenge at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Korn Ferry Challenge, at the TPC Sawgrass Dye's Valley Course.
A week later, the Korn Ferry Tour will remain on the First Coast with the King & Bear Classic, at the World Golf Hall of Fame Course.
If the numerous safety procedures to protect the players, caddies and tournament staff from being exposed to the COVID-19 virus are enough, professional golf will last until the week before Christmas, with only a break for Thanksgiving.
The first four PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour events will be played without fans - and there's been no guarantee there won't be more. Much is dependent on the markets the tournaments are scheduled to be played and what local restrictions remain in place, or may get tougher, if there is a spike in positive tests and infections.
Other governing bodies will be watching the PGA Tour's lead closely and have cautiously scheduled their return to play.
The LPGA is planning to play its first event since the suspension of play in March with the Marathon Classic July 23-26 in Sylvania, Ohio.
A week later, the European PGA Tour will attempt its first competition with the British Masters July 30-Aug. 2, at Newcastle-on-Tyne, England. One day after that opening round, the PGA Tour Champions will be restarted in Grand Blanc, Mich., with the Ally Challenge.
The FedEx Cup Playoffs will begin on Aug. 20 with the Northern Trust at the TPC Boston. The next stop will be Aug. 27-30 with the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields in Chicago, followed by the Tour Championship Sept. 4-7 at Eastlake in Atlanta.
The level of success for those events on five tours will play a huge part in whether the three major championships that were postponed will come off without any hitches
The first is the PGA Championship, Aug. 6-9 at the TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. The U.S. Open _ which will be held without qualifiers _ is Sept. 17-20 at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y.
The Masters will be Nov. 12-15 at the Augusta National Golf Club.
In between the U.S. Open and the Masters will be the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, in Kohler, Wis.
Key dates for the return of professional golf
June 5: Final day for players to commit to the PGA Tour's Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth and the Korn Ferry Tour Challenge at the TPC Sawgrass Dye's Valley.
June 8-11: Schwab Challenge; Korn Ferry Challenge.
June 15-18: PGA Tour RBC Heritage, Hilton Head Island, S.C.; Korn Ferry Tour King & Bear Classic, St. Augustine.
July 23-26: LPGA Marathon Classic, Sylvania, Ohio.
July 30-Aug. 2: European PGA Tour British Masters, Newcastle-on-Tyne, England.
July 31-Aug. 2: PGA Tour Champions Ally Challenge, Grand Blanc, Mich.
Aug. 6-9: PGA Championship, TPC Harding Park, San Francisco.
Sept. 4-7: Tour Championship, East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta.
Sept. 17-20: U.S. Open, Winged Foot, Mamoroneck, N.Y.
Sept. 25-27: Ryder Cup, Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wis.
Nov. 12-15: Masters Tournament, Augusta National Golf Club.
Nov. 19-22: RSM Classic, Sea Island Club, St. Simons Island, Ga.