PGA Championship, minus fans, gets green light at Harding Park

The first major championship to be contested in 2020, the PGA Championship, will be played at San Francisco's Harding Park but without spectators.

The PGA of America announced the decision on Monday after spending months considering other scenarios, including moving the tournament to another venue such as Valhalla in Kentucky or Quail Hollow in North Carolina. It was also waiting on state health officials, who determined the event could go on but without fans.

The organization decided to stick with its original site for the rescheduled tournament to be played Aug. 6-9. The PGA had been originally scheduled for May 14-17 but was rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are both inspired and honored to 'play on,'" said PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh. "In doing so, we will spotlight not only the beauty of TPC Harding Park, but the fortitude of San Francisco and its remarkable people. We'd like to thank the state of California and the city and county of San Francisco for being terrific partners in helping us get to this place. While the local community cannot be with us physically on-site, we will certainly carry their spirit of resilience and unity with us as we stage our major championship, on their behalf, for all the world to see and enjoy."

The PGA of America will continue to monitor COVID-19 developments and work in concert with the state of California and San Francisco city and county public health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through Championship Week.

Early plans called for the PGA to host up to 40,000 spectators per day at Harding Park, which has never been the site of a major championship but is where Rory McIlroy won the WGC-Match Play Championship in 2015, where the U.S. defeated the International team at the 2009 Presidents Cup and where Tiger Woods won in a playoff over John Daly at the 2005 WGC-American Express Championship.

Tournament organizers had halted construction on grandstands and other infrastructure in March following stay-at-home orders from San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

"We are thrilled to welcome the PGA Championship to San Francisco," Breed said. "We are able to safely take this step toward reopening because of the ongoing sacrifices of our citizens, the continued committed work of our healthcare workers and the early action we took to battle COVID-19."

Hopes had been raised that the PGA might be able to accommodate some fans due to the Memorial Tournament's proposal that was approved by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to have approximately 8,000 spectators per day next month. The Memorial Tournament is scheduled to be the first event in the revised schedule to have spectators; it is three weeks prior to the PGA.

"We've got to do whatever we've got to do to make us safe, keep the fans safe,'' said defending champion Brooks Koepka. "Whatever it's going to be, it's going to be. Obviously, you'd like to have fans, but I understand with what's going on, it might not be possible.''

Koepka, who has won four major championships, won the last two PGAs and is looking to become the first player to win three consecutive PGAs since Walter Hagen won four straight from 1924 to 1927.

The PGA Championship is one of three majors to be rescheduled, with The Open deciding to cancel in 2020. After the PGA, the U.S. Open is scheduled for Sept. 17-20 at Winged Foot; the Masters is scheduled for Nov. 12-15.