Meet the pro tours that are refusing to shut down

Anna Nordqvist

Professional golf tours all around the world have gone into temporary shutdown as a result of the coronavirus epidemic – with a couple of exceptions.

Two mini tours in the United States have decided to proceed as planned with their scheduled events.

One of those is the Cactus Tour. Established in 2005, it is a women’s circuit designed to provide a stepping stone towards the LPGA. It is based primarily in Arizona and the south-west of the USA and, whilst other tours have been either postponing or cancelling events left, right and centre, its schedule is complete through to the start of August.

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The most recent Cactus Tour event took place at Moon Valley over the weekend and featured a limited field of 27 players, all of whom had to adhere to strict preventative measures to help guard against COVID-19.

The Moon Valley event wasn’t originally on the tour schedule. Instead, it was one of three events ADDED in recent weeks due to demand from players.

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Tour director Mike Brown told the Golf Channel: “The girls wanted to play. I didn't call any one of them. They want to play and they're already playing anyway. I've gotten some bad press, but with all the things that are going on they're already playing.”

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The players were allowed to use carts, which were sanitised before each round and limited to one player. Golfers were also asked to space out on the course and to dispense with post-round hugs or handshakes in favour of a wave or high elbow.

“We followed all the guidelines," added Brown. "It's safer for them for a chance of getting something doing what I did because they're all individuals, not cramming into a golf cart right next to someone. But we're obviously keeping an eye on how things go."

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Solheim Cup star Anna Nordqvist took part in the event, which she won, beating fellow LPGA major champion Suzann Pettersen in a play-off.

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"I'm sure there's a lot of people questioning why we're playing, but everyone is playing golf anyway," the Swede told the Golf Channel. "Everyone’s got their own cart or they're walking, you keep your distance and the golf course is a great place to be right now.”

Like the Cactus Tour, the Outlaw Tour – a men’s circuit played across the Phoenix area – is also pushing ahead with its schedule. Canadian Wil Bateman won its most recent event, a three-day competition at Western Skies Golf Course, last week.

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