The PGA Tour’s decision to allow a limited number of spectators to attend next month’s Houston Open could have backfired on them, with five-time major champion Phil Mickelson outlining his (perfectly reasonable) opposition to the plan.
The tour announced last week that it intends to let up to 2,000 spectators attend each day of the tournament, slated to take place at Memorial Park from November 5-8. It will be the first PGA Tour event on American soil to welcome fans for almost eight months.
However, if officials were expecting everybody to be thrilled at this apparent next step towards a return to normal, they will be dismayed to read the views of Mickelson.
Speaking to reporters ahead of this week’s ZOZO Championship at Sherwood Forest, the 50-year-old said that he’s concerned about the return of fans with the rescheduled Masters set to be played the following week.
“For me personally, I don't like the risk that having that happen the week before the Masters. That's a big tournament we have and I just don't want to have any risk heading in there. So it has made me question whether or not I'll play [Houston].”
He added: “I have to give the Tour a lot of credit and confidence in the way that they've handled the entire year and I'm sure they're going to do a great job at keeping the players safe in that environment.
"But because I haven't seen it before, because it's the first one out on the tour with some people, I'm unsure and I don't want to take any unnecessary risks.
"I don't go out to dinner, I don't go out and socialise because I want to make sure that I have an opportunity to compete in the Masters.”
Mickelson, a three-time winner at Augusta National, said that he will likely play the Champions Tour competition in Phoenix instead, assuming that it doesn’t have allow fans. In the event that it does, he will reluctantly tee it up in Houston.