Dustin Johnson can picture it now: competing down the stretch on a Sunday afternoon in a PGA Tour event, as intensity reaches its peak and the crowd begins to buzz.
But in reality, it will be silent. Golf’s upcoming return will take place without fans lining the fairways or huddling around the tee boxes and greens.
“The fans are very important,” Johnson said during a Saturday appearance on the Joey Vendetta Show. “They bring excitement (and) it’s part of the sport. It’s gonna be different. It’s gonna take time to adjust to it.
“But obviously for the first few events and while all this is going on with the coronavirus, that’s how it’s gotta be for right now if we want to continue to operate and play our sport.”
The PGA Tour shut down on the night of March 12, following the first round of the Players Championship, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thursday, June 11 marks the Tour’s official return date, with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.
Golf fans have seen some of their favourite PGA stars in action already — including Johnson — with recent events that raised over $25 million combined for COVID-19 relief. Johnson won the TaylorMade Driving Relief skins match with Rory McIlroy on May 17, before Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning teamed up to win The Match II on May 24 against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady.
So in that way, Johnson already has some experience playing without fans. But he’s hopeful it won’t have to be that way for too long.
“I think things will evolve rather quickly, hopefully, and we can get fans back out there,” Johnson said. “It’s definitely gonna be a different mindset. Because I think the fans bring a lot to the sport — they bring a lot to every sport.”
Fans or no fans, Johnson is eager for the Tour to resume. The former world No. 1 (now ranked No. 5) missed the first three and a half months of the season recovering from knee surgery, which he said has “healed up great.”
His quarantine routine of hanging around the house has transformed in recent weeks, now that golf’s return is around the corner. Feeling healthy, Johnson is ready to make up for lost time.
“I’ll be playing a bunch when we start back up,” he said.