Caddies react to PGA Tour hiatus due to coronavirus concerns
Late Thursday night, the PGA Tour announced its decision to cancel the remainder of the Players Championship, as well as the next four events on the schedule — Valspar Championship, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship and the Valero Texas Open — over concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic.
That took the Tour schedule through April 5.
The next tournament up would have been the season’s first major, The Masters, but Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Fred Ridley announced Friday morning that the tournament would be postponed.
Statement from Chairman Ridley:
— The Masters (@TheMasters) March 13, 2020
All of that means there will not be PGA Tour golf played until April 16 at the earliest, which would be the first round of the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
As has been the case all week, that remains a fluid situation.
With Tour caddies out of work for the foreseeable future, we reached out to several of them for reaction to the news.
Here’s what they told us.
Todd Montoya, caddie for Brian Stuard:
My reaction to the PGA Tour’s decision to cancel several tournaments is that I’m initially saddened and disappointed that we will not be able to play some of my favorite tournaments of the season. I’m initially sad and disappointed that I will not be able to continue to participate in the sport that I love. I am initially sad and disappointed that I will not be able to continue to work in the profession that I love.
After digesting my initial feelings of the situation I am glad the Tour has taken this stance to not only protect its contestants, but all people involved in running a PGA Tour tournament. I am glad the Tour is protecting the general public by taking this stance as well.
My hope is that we can return to regular operations as soon as is safely possible.
I am now home where I live with my 80-year-old father and will do my best to help keep him and myself as safe as possible. There will be lots of TV watching and maybe some book reading. I’m guessing that outside activity will be limited so as to keep contact with other people at a minimum. My father enjoys spending time in his backyard working on his old cars and things like that will occupy his time.
Terry Walker, caddie for Andrew Landry:
I am still in shock that such drastic measures have been taken. However, I do believe that Jay Monahan would not take such measures unless it was absolutely necessary. I fully support the PGA Tour on any decision that puts the health and welfare of the players first.
Thursday seemed like any other day out on the course. Our group was focused, but there was some curiosity as to how things would go Friday with no patrons. Unfortunately, we will not get to find out.
We just took a three-week break before the Players Championship. Now, another five weeks of no tournament play. I may go spend some time at the farm in Kansas. At least I will stay in shape with the work I do when I am there.
John Wood, caddie for Matt Kuchar:
I was surprised they cancelled the event after starting it. I think a lot of people would have liked to have finished it out with no spectators and then reevaluate. But the decision is certainly understandable.
I’ll spend my time away at Yellowstone Park as much as possible.
Scott Sajtinac, caddie for Jason Dufner and president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies (APTC):
The atmosphere (at TPC Sawgrass) on Thursday seemed pretty much the same as always. It was business as usual, as far as I could tell. But clearly the Tour is privy to a lot more information on coronavirus than us, and you know they were doing everything they could to make the best decision possible on continuing play or not, spectators or not. I’m disappointed the Players was canceled, it’s our premier event. It’s a huge event for us. All of us caddies are disappointed. We’ll go home, rest up a little, and wait to see when we get the green light to get back at it. Hopefully it’s sooner than later.
Kyle Peters, caddie for Corey Conners:
I totally understand the cancellation and I’m happy that our commissioner cares enough about our players and caddies to make a thought call like that. The atmosphere seemed a little different. Almost like everyone knew this would be their last day watching golf for a while. The fans weren’t rowdy and yelling at us like what happens occasionally… they were true golf fans trying to get their last day of spectating in.
We played in the morning, and I knew there was an announcement coming at noon so I was kind of counting down the time until we got the news. I asked one of the other caddies on No. 9 what time it was because of the announcement. That was at 11:20 and we both guessed what the news was going to be and we both assumed no fans. After that hole we got the news that’s what was going to happen.
I’m not surprised it took this long. I thing we had a strong case to keep playing since we are an outdoor sport. However, the more I started thinking about travel and getting from city to city it seemed less logical. I was assuming we might play next week with no fans and then shut it down. I’m driving home this morning and I’ll be spending the next few weeks golfing as long as the courses are open. The weather is warming up in Charleston so I might do some boating as well.
Aaron Flener, caddie for J.T. Poston:
Obviously, I’m disappointed to not play. Disappointed that the next few events are cancelled. Crushed that the Masters is postponed. It was going to be my first time there. I know it’ll happen at some point, but the excitement was starting to really build for that. Golf and caddying is our livelihood, it’s what we love to do. And while my reaction is disappointment, it is 100 percent the right decision by the Tour. Everybody has to do their part to put an end to the spread of this virus and making this decision is how the Tour is doing their part.
It’s probably too early to answer how I’ll handle the uncertainty in the weeks to come. Uncertainty is always one of the hardest feelings to deal with, especially for caddies. We are detail-oriented human beings. We know exact numbers to things on the golf course, we know exactly how far our players clubs go, we know weather conditions. We don’t know how long this is going to last and that part is going to be difficult for a lot of us.
It’s rare for us to have what will be at least a month off from work. I hope to spend time with friends and loved ones I don’t see often. I hope to play some golf. I plan on taking part in some hands on tornado relief in Nashville. Maybe I’ll learn how to read again. I don’t know, so many possibilities.
Joe Cruz, caddie for Adam Hadwin:
Right now I feel disappointment and shocked to say the least, but it was 100 percent the right decision to do our part as a Tour to help stop the spread.