(photo provided)

The Charles Schwab Challenge will be getting much more attention than usual as it is the first stop when the PGA Tour returns on June 11th. Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, and Matthew Wolff are among a few of the big names who will be teeing it up at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. It will be the best field ever for the 56-year-old event and it’s also worth noting that the No. 1 golfer in the world, Rory McIlroy, will also be competing.

McIlroy plans to be active right out of the gate and will make his career debut at the Charles Schwab Challenge followed by the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina (June 18-21) and the Travelers Championship (June 25-28) at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut. Three tournaments in the month of June highlights just how eager the best golfer on the planet is to get back on the lush, plush, with the sports’ best.

McIlroy stated the following regarding his ambitious return, “That's my plan, play the first three. I think it will be nice to get back out and play. Obviously, we're going to have to take as many precautions as possible to be able to put TOUR events on again, but I think the PGA TOUR has got a very robust plan in place, and if they can execute it the right way, I see no reason why we can't start June 11. If we do, I'll be ready to go in Fort Worth.”

Charles Schwab Challenge TV Schedule

Thursday, June 11

Round 1: NOON – 4 PM ET (Golf Channel) PGA TOUR Live Featured Groups

Round 1: 4 PM – 7 PM ET (Golf Channel)

Friday, June 12

Round 2: 4 PM – 7 PM ET (Golf Channel)

Saturday, June 13 

Round 3: 1 PM – 3 PM ET (Golf Channel)

Round 3: 3 PM – 6 PM ET (CBS)

Sunday, June 14 

Final Round: 1 PM – 3 PM ET (Golf Channel) 

Final Round: 3 PM – 6 PM ET (CBS)

COVID-19 Precautions

The first four events of the tour are expected to be absent from any fans in the gallery. Moreover, masks and hand-sanitizer will be part of the protocol for tournament sites, while personal protection equipment will be mandatory for ancillary staff. The social distancing between players and personnel will be the rule and not the exception. There will also be a comprehensive testing and screening program for both players and their caddies who will be subject to completing medical questionnaires while being administered temperature readings and nasal swab testing.

The testing procedures will begin before the players and staff arrives at the events and will be administered upon their arrival. If there is suspicion that anyone may be infected, a tournament physician will consult with that person and he or she will be tested for COVID-19 if the doctor deems it advisable. Chartered jets for players and caddies will be available for those without symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

Despite the new reality facing the golfers and the absence of fans, many of the pros just want to get back to business, grip it and rip it, and do what they do best. The testing is a necessary evil but once the players take to the course, it should be business as usual. Two-time tour winner this season and Pittsburgh native Brendon Todd stated, "I feel comfortable they will be doing a really good job of testing,'' said Todd, 34, who has three PGA Tour victories and has not competed since the tour shut down on March 12 at the Players Championship. It sounds like each person will be tested, even the walking scorers, the officials, to make sure we are COVID free and healthy. I feel good with that process. I'm really excited to get back to playing.''

McIlroy commented on his inactivity, “I miss the competition. I miss the buzz of getting into contention and playing in those last few groups on a Sunday and really feeling that. I also miss the locker room. I miss being around people. I miss the banter that goes on in the locker rooms and the camaraderie that people don't see. I'm eager to play again and I'll play as much as necessary to give myself a chance to win tournaments and keep myself at the top of the world ranking. I was playing pretty well when this all happened in March, so I would like to just really pick up where I left off. That would be nice.”

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