by Jim Buzzerd
Live sports returned
Whether prudent, or not, most of the United States is gradually moving in the direction of reopening the country from the restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A sign of relief came on Sunday when NBC aired a live benefit golf skins match as Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson challenged Rickie Fowler and relative newcomer Mathew Wolff. Of course the reality is there is still a long way to go before the sports world returns to normal.
The TaylorMade Driving Relief match play skins event raised over $5 million for COVID -19 charities. The thing is there were no fans in attendance. One rules official accompanied the foursome and handled the flagstick and another carried a rake for the bunkers.
Things are going to be different for a while. On Sunday it was pretty cool to this observer to watch the players carry their own bags because there were no caddies allowed. And it was somewhat amusing to notice Johnson forget he didn’t have a caddie a couple times, hit his stride down the fairway, only to return to the tee for his bag.
The PGA Tour has decided to resume tournament play beginning June 8 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth. There will be no fans permitted there and likely for at least the first four tour events following the resumption of the schedule. Caddies are expected to be available, though volunteers will handle rakes for the bunkers.
Travel can be an issue, but the tour is going to provide players the option of flying on a chartered jet from one tournament location to the next.
Also returning to a live event last weekend was NASCAR from Darlington, South Carolina. Again, the race was held with no fans in the stands, and won’t be at least through June 21. Each race crew at Darlington was allowed 16 people to be admitted to the grounds. Kevin Harvick won the race.
Of course my number one concern in the sports world is the status of college football this fall, specifically West Virginia University football. There isn’t much new to report, but WVU athletics director Shane Lyons will be involved in any decision as Chairman of the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee. He has served in that role since 2018.
The goal to get the season underway with little or no delay still seems to be having the ability to have the team on campus six weeks before the season. Lyons said, “We had some time to talk about different models, anywhere from a six to four week model — six weeks being optimal, four weeks being the minimum.”