Augusta National Golf Club plans to allow a limited number of spectators to attend the 85th Masters in April despite the Covid-19 pandemic, club chairman Fred Ridley announced Tuesday.
The April 8-11 tournament will use health and safety protocols similar to those used last November, when the famed course was closed to supporters as Dustin Johnson won the green jacket and his second major title.
“Following the successful conduct of the Masters tournament last November with only essential personnel, we are confident in our ability to responsibly invite a limited number of patrons to Augusta National in April,” Ridley said.
Pre-tournament testing, temperature checks and required face masks were among the safety measures used last year.
While efforts are being made to safely include a limited number of spectators, Ridley indicated Covid-19 conditions must improve to make the move possible.
“As with the November Masters, we will implement practices and policies that will protect the health and safety of everyone in attendance. Nothing is, or will be, more important than the well-being of all involved,” Ridley said.
“While we are disappointed that we will be unable to accommodate a full complement of patrons this year, we will continue our efforts to ensure that all who purchased tickets from Augusta National will have access in 2022, provided conditions improve.”
Augusta National is communicating with ticket holders and will issue refunds to those not selected to attend.
Ridley also said the club intends to conduct the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals youth events as scheduled before the first official Masters practice round with a small number of patrons allowed at each.
Both were called off last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, no spectators will be allowed at next month’s PGA Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, tournament officials announced Tuesday.
The Los Angeles event, operated by the charity foundation of 15-time major winner Tiger Woods, will be played February 18-21.
“The health and well being of the community, our players and everyone at The Genesis Invitational remains our top priority,” tournament director Mike Antolini said.
“Throughout our extensive planning, it became clear that due to the pandemic the best way to ensure the safety for all involved is to hold the tournament without spectators.”
Australia’s Adam Scott won last year’s title by two strokes over Americans Matt Kuchar and Scott Brown and South Korea’s Kang Sung.
Scott’s victory came just weeks before the PGA Tour shut down for three months due to the deadly virus outbreak.
The United States remains the country worst-affected by the pandemic, and has posted an average of more than 3,000 deaths a day over the last seven days, according to an AFP tally based on official sources.