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Shriners Open to be closed to fans

Updated August 25, 2020 - 2:21 pm

The good news for Southern Nevada golf fans is that the Shriners Hospital for Children Open remains on the PGA Tour schedule for early October.

The bad news is the annual event will be played this year without spectators.

Patrick Lindsey, executive director of the tournament, confirmed Tuesday that the COVID-19 pandemic will prevent golf fans from seeing the tournament in person when it tees off at TPC Summerlin on Oct. 8-11.

“We’re disappointed that we can’t showcase our event with spectators,” Lindsey said. “But ultimately we have an obligation to the community, the sponsors and everyone to be able to safely get through the pandemic.”

The decision comes as no surprise. No spectators have been allowed on courses since the PGA Tour resumed play in June after a three-month hiatus. That ban applied to all events through the Tour Championship, which will be played next week.

In addition, officials for the upcoming U.S. Open in September and Masters in November already have said their majors will be played without spectators.

“Ultimately, this is the best decision,” Lindsey said.

It comes one day after the PGA Tour announced a second event will be played in Las Vegas, the CJ Cup, the following week at Shadow Creek Golf Club. It’s a one-time move of a tournament normally held in South Korea.

PGA Tour spokesman Chris Reimer said a decision has not been made on having spectators at the CJ Cup, which will be operated by the Tour’s Championship Management Division.

Better fields?

Lindsey believes having a second event in town will have a positive impact on the Shriners. Top-tier players who might normally skip the Shriners might now decide to play both events.

The CJ Cup normally draws most of the game’s top players, thanks in part to its limited field and massive $9.75 million purse. Justin Thomas, who has never played the Shriners event, is the defending champion.

If the Shriners pulls in some of those players, Lindsey is hopeful they will enjoy Las Vegas and the challenge of TPC Summerlin enough to start adding it to their schedules in future years.

“Having (the CJ Cup) here could create some long-term benefits for us,” he said.

Lindsey said his team will join with PGA Tour officials, city leaders and health experts to create a two-week bubble that will stress safety and showcase two events in one market.

Details of how the bubble will work will be ironed out over the next few weeks.

As for local golf fans disappointed they won’t be walking the course with players this year, Lindsey said there are still several ways they can be part of the experience, including watching the action on Golf Channel and donating to Shriners Hospital.

“TV ratings are everything for us this year,” he said.

Volunteers needed

A third option is to volunteer to work at the tournament. About 500 people have signed up, and a few more are needed to serve as marshals or help with ShotLink, the tour’s platform for collecting and distributing data on every player’s shot in real time.

Potential volunteers can sign up at shrinershospitalopen.com .

Volunteers also will be needed for the CJ Cup, and Lindsey’s team will be helping to get that ball rolling.

“We’ll help them as much as we can,” he said.

Greg Robertson is a freelance reporter who covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at robertsongt@gmail.com

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