Harding Park, 2020 PGA host course, set to reopen Monday

San Francisco (AFP) –


TPC Harding Park, scheduled to host the PGA Championship in August as the year's first major, will reopen on Monday, the course announced on its website, but cups will be filled with tubing while rakes have been removed and flagsticks deemed off limits.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health permitted the course to book tee times starting Monday and allow public rounds with precautions to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus that shut down sports.

"We still have a need to make sure we are protecting public health," San Francisco Mayor London Breed said Sunday.

Harding Park was closed March 16 when stay-at-home measures were imposed in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This year's PGA Championship was originally to be staged May 14-17 at the San Francisco layout, but was postponed to August 6-9 because of the deadly virus pandemic.

The Masters, traditionally the first major tournament each year, was postponed from April to November by the coronavirus outbreak while the US Open was moved from June to September and the British Open was canceled.

World number three Brooks Koepka, the top-ranked American golfer, has won the past two PGA Championships, beating Tiger Woods by two strokes in 2018 at Bellerive and Dustin Johnson by the same margin last year at Bethpage Black.

Koepka could become the first golfer to win the same major title three years in a row since Australian Peter Thomson at the 1954-56 British Opens.

Walter Hagen won a record four PGA Championship titles in a row from 1924-1927.

Only players with reservations will be allowed onto the course.

Face coverings and social distancing required at all times, although coverings can be removed when players begin their rounds.

Cups have been filled with tubing, with balls considered "holed out" once the ball touches the tube.

Flagsticks cannot be touched or removed while rakes, ball-washers and trash cans have been removed from the course.