March 2 (Reuters) - The PGA Tour has no plans to make any schedule changes amid growing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak but has established new protocols in a bid to protect the health and safety of fans and players, it said on Monday.
With some of the PGA Tour’s biggest events set to be contested in the United States over the coming weeks, the organisation said it had reviewed the positions from relevant health agencies and saw no reason to alter its schedule.
“The health and safety of our players, employees, fans, partners, volunteers and everyone associated with the PGA Tour continues to be our No. 1 priority,” the governing body said in a statement.
“After reviewing the relevant positions from the Centers of Disease Control and the World Health Organization, there are no planned schedule changes beyond what has already been decided with PGA Tour Series-China.
“However, we are establishing additional protocols to promote the health and safety of all participants and fans at our tournaments, and we will regularly review our schedule in light of revised CDC and WHO reports and make any updates as necessary.”
Last month the PGA Tour Series-China postponed two of its qualifying tournaments and delayed the start of its season by two months because of the coronavirus epidemic.
The PGA Tour did not disclose the recommended protocols but a source with the governing body said they include having hand sanitizer at entrance gates and throughout the courses while ensuring all food service safety protocols are followed.
The flu-like coronavirus that originated in China late last year has killed nearly 3,000 people, infected over 86,500 globally and is forcing the cancellation or postponement of numerous sporting and other events.
The number of coronavirus cases in the United States has risen in recent days, with over 75 confirmed cases including two reported deaths, both in Washington state. New York and Florida, among other U.S. states, have also confirmed cases.
The PGA Tour’s flagship event, The Players Championship, runs from March 12-15 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida followed closely by the April 9-12 Masters in Augusta, Georgia, where the year’s first major is contested. (Reporting by Steve Keating and Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)