PGA Tour cancels The Players Championship, next 3 tournaments amid coronavirus outbreak

After just one round, the PGA Tour has called off The Players Championship. (David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

After just one round of play, the PGA Tour has called off The Players Championship.

The Tour announced the move late on Thursday night after play had ended for the day at TPC Sawgrass amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. The league also canceled all events across all of its Tours — including the Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour Champions — through the Valero Texas Open.

“It is with regret that we are announcing the cancelation of The Players Championship,” the Tour said in a statement. “We have also decided to cancel all PGA Tour events — across all of our Tours — in the coming weeks, through the Valero Texas Open. 

“We have pledged from the start to be responsible, thoughtful and transparent with our decision process. We did everything possible to create a safe environment for our players in order to continue the event throughout the weekend, and we are endeavoring to give our fans a much-needed respite from the current climate. But at this point — and as the situation continues to rapidly change — the right thing to do for our players and our fans is to pause.”

The Tour ran the event as scheduled on Thursday despite numerous other leagues and tournaments suspending operations due to the coronavirus outbreak. It announced on Thursday, however, that it was planning to hold the rest of the event without fans present. That policy was going to continue for the next three events — the Valspar Championship, World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play and Valero Texas Open. 

The decision to continue, however, didn’t go over well with several notable figures in the golf world.

Yet just hours after PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan addressed the media, golf’s “fifth major” was called off.

The NBA made the first move to suspend operations on Wednesday night due to the outbreak after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. That sparked a domino effect across the sports world, which quickly saw Major League Soccer, the NHL, MLB, college basketball and numerous others follow suit.

Hideki Matsuyama held the lead at The Players Championship after the opening round, thanks to an impressive 9-under 63, which tied a course record. He held a two shot lead over Harris English, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Si Woo Kim when play ended.

The next event now on the Tour schedule is The Masters, the first major championship of the year. It is scheduled to start on April 9 at Augusta National in Georgia. That tournament is still planning to run as scheduled as of Thursday night, however, it is not governed by the PGA Tour.

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