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      PGA sticking to June restart plan

      By MURRAY GREIG | China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-28 09:20
      PGA Tour player Cameron Percy practices at his home course, the Country Club at Wakefield Plantation in Raleigh, North Carolina, US on March 26, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

      Golf Digest reported last Friday that the PGA Tour is moving ahead with plans to resume play on June 11-without spectators-and that an official announcement to that effect is expected this week.

      Pro golf was halted in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

      All indications point to the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, being the first event on the revamped schedule, with other tournaments penciled in through the first weekend of August.

      The revised tour schedule for the remainder of August and September was previously announced and includes the PGA Championship, the FedEx Cup playoffs, the US Open and the Ryder Cup.

      The season will wrap with the Masters in Augusta, Georgia, in mid-November.

      Coronavirus is not the only pressing matter on PGA commissioner Jay Monahan's agenda, as interest appears to be growing in launching a rival global tour: the Premier Golf League.

      The PGL, which aims to coax the world's top players into an F1-style team environment, has become a hot topic of discussion since Raine Capital, a hedge-fund company based in New York, announced it was backing the venture.

      Raine Capital operates 22 private funds and has approximately $2.53 billion in total assets under its management. The government of Saudi Arabia had previously floated an offer of financial backing for the PGL.

      World No 1 Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, still searching for his first Masters victory after winning each of the three other majors at least once, is on record as opposing the PGL-but he's not completely ruling it out.

      "My position is I'm against (the PGL) until there may come a day that I can't be against it," McIlroy said last month. "If everyone else goes, I might not have a choice."

      Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm and Bubba Watson have likewise indicated they are not interested in breaking ranks with the PGA Tour, but rising star Adam Scott of Australia has stated the PGL proposal is "fantastic", adding: "I'm still very positive about the concept of what it could be, for sure." Swedish star Henrik Stenson has also expressed interest.

      Andrew Gardiner, a British lawyer and businessman who is the PGL's chief executive officer, met with longtime PGA star Phil Mickelson at the Saudi International in February and afterwards said: "I figured now was probably time. I'm aware of enough people saying we have to speak, and I wanted to make sure people had the ability to know where we're coming from.

      "The planning is all done, the platform is built and the financial backing is in place. Now, this will only happen with the support of the players, the sponsors, the broadcasters and the fans."

      The PGL is proposing an 18-event schedule of 54-hole tournaments in 2021, with 10 events in the United States, plus swings through Europe, Asia, Australia and one stop in the Middle East.

      Teams of four players would simultaneously compete for individual and team prizes, with the captain deciding before each round which two players' scores will count for the team.

      "It's easier for fans to become emotionally engaged with a team, and it will generate other dimensions of storylines and content," Gardiner said.

      "Our attitude all the way through this has been we will build and we will persevere and we will offer the opportunity for people to make a choice.

      "We have spent six years building an extraordinarily solid platform which gives us the opportunity to facilitate whatever decision is made by third parties."

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