Rumours in the States have suggested that next month’s Masters Tournament could take place without spectators due to the global spread of coronavirus.
Those in charge of the Augusta National Golf Club said last week that they still expect the first men’s major of the season to go ahead as scheduled – but, tellingly, they added that they are “monitoring the situation closely”.
However, as the virus continues to spread rapidly across the globe, forcing the postponement or cancellation of several high-profile events, it has been reported that Tiger Woods’ title defence – due to take place from April 9-12 – could happen behind closed doors.
Former FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel told the Golf Channel: “People were saying [the Masters] might not have patrons this year. That was a rumour the last couple of days with the players. That would be unbelievable to play Augusta with no patrons.”
Shutting out the fans is not uncommon at the top level of the game. However, there is no known instance of an entire tournament taking place without spectators, far less a major championship.
WATCH - BOB VOKEY MASTERCLASS - EP.2
Whether true or not, the rumours regarding spectators being kept away from Augusta National has already had an impact on the secondary market for Masters tickets.
According to the Outside The Cut website, the average asking price for badges for this year’s tournament is down by between 48% and 56% compared with 2018.
A ticket for the final round in 2018, bought through the secondary market, would have set you back $2,100. However, you can get the equivalent ticket for this year for $939, as fears over the coronavirus and its implications tighten their hold.
Elsewhere, it has been reported that there is a contingency in place for May’s US PGA Championship to move from Harding Park in San Francisco to TPC Sawgrass.