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#World will be watching to see if PGA Tour gets this right

#World will be watching to see if PGA Tour gets this right

FORT WORTH, Texas — For all 148 players in the field at this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club, their responsibility as golfers is what is always is at a tournament: Make make more birdies than bogeys.

Their responsibility is to post the lowest score possible each day and, by week’s end if it’s the lowest score of the 148 players, that’s a win, a seven-figure check, a trophy and a bunch of world ranking and FedExCup points.

The responsibility for those players — and the PGA Tour itself — runs much deeper than birdies and bogeys this week.

This being the first mainstream sporting event since the COVID-19 pandemic took over our lives some three months ago, there is a responsibility to do this right, because the world is watching.

And, based on conversations with players during Tuesday’s practice round, they’re taking that responsibility as seriously as trying to shoot 65.

“I think we need this week to go off without a glitch,’’ Ryan Palmer said. “We need to make sure this week is great, not only for the world of sports but our tour. I think if we come off this week and the fans get a great show and no [COVID] cases, I think it’s going to be a huge success for the tour, for our fans, for the sporting world.’’

Jordan Spieth, who like Palmer is a Texan, making this event a home game, said, “I totally think that we all as players have a responsibility for it to go off very smoothly given it’s the first sport that’s starting, and with these other [sports] kind of having an eye on how things are going.’’

The sports world is watching closely. The RBC Heritage, which is being played next week, is watching. So, too, is the Travelers Championship, which is the third PGA Tour event out of the box, and the Rocket Mortgage Championship, which is to be played the week after the Travelers.

Jordan Spieth
Jordan SpiethGetty Images

Other sports will be watching, too. The NBA and Major League Soccer will be trying to create a “bubble” similar to what the PGA Tour is trying to do here as those two leagues prepare to play at Disney World.

The PGA Tour has the chance to be the standard bearer for sports moving ahead in this pandemic era.

Dr. Keith Argenbright, from the University of Texas Southwestern, has worked with the PGA Tour with its testing and medical plans at Colonial, and said this event “is blazing a trail for the resumption of professional sports in America.”

“There are several tournaments slated right after this, Hilton Head, Hartford and Detroit, so we always knew that what we did here in Fort Worth would be replicated at other tournaments,’’ Argenbright told The Post. “We always knew that golf was going to go before hockey and basketball, and that other sports leagues would look to golf to see how they did it.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure on the tour and there’s pressure on the city of Fort Worth. We want to do this right. We don’t want to let the PGA Tour down. We don’t want to let the city down or any other sports leagues down because we stubbed our toe coming out of their gate.’’

Justin Thomas, who’s a member of the PGA Tours player advisory council, said his “curiosity level was a lot higher probably the last couple months’’ about how this was going to work “because everybody had so many questions.’’

“It’s going to be different,’’ Thomas said. “You can’t go into this thing thinking it’s going to be normal because it’s not. I would say 2020 is beyond a bizarre year so far, and especially in the world of sports it’s just going to be different.

“If we all want to get back and play the game that we love … we’re just going to have to get over the fact that it’s going to be different and weird. But this is a great opportunity for golf to grow even more and get to an even better level than it is.

“Hopefully, people who maybe don’t usually watch golf see that we’re the best players in the world and the best at our craft, and we can do some pretty unbelievable stuff with the golf ball. So, hopefully everybody will enjoy.’’

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