SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Despite the inclement weather today, the Sanford International is underway with spectators.
It’s the first time that’s happened in professional golf since the pandemic started.
Although this is the third annual tournament here in Sioux Falls, organizers say this one feels different, because they know the world is watching.
Under a persistent light drizzle, dozens of professional golfers; like John Daly, Ernie Els and Fred Couples teed off at Minnehaha Country Club.
“We’ve got the best field that we’ve ever had, the number of major champions that we have, the number of guys who are at the top of the money list for the PGA Tour Champions is just off the charts,” Sanford Executive Vice President, Micah Alberson said.
A number of PGA tours were cancelled this year due to COVID-19, but thanks to the partnership with Sanford Health, which is the league’s mobile COVID-19 testing partner of the PGA, and the extra precautions they’ve taken; the golfers, organizers and fans all feel comfortable being here.
“Our players aren’t nervous to come play in front of spectators and that’s why the field is so strong this week with numerous Hall of Famers and PGA champions,” PGA Commissioner of the Senior Champions Tour Miller Brady said.
Tournament host Andy North says the golfers are thrilled to be playing in front of fans again.
“They like to show off, there’s nothing more fun than to hit a poor drive out behind one of these trees and hear a couple of guys talking ‘there’s no chance this guys got from here,’ and then you pull off some unbelievable shot, there’s nothing more fun than that,” North said.
The wet weather isn’t dampening the turnout either.
“There’s some opportunities here for us to show the rest of the world that you can go do this, you can go out and have events, you can have spectators and there’s not a better place to do it than South Dakota and with a health care system as a partner than right here,” tournament host Andy North said.
“Everyone is watching us this week, everybody in the world I’ve been getting text messages from overseas from Europeans tour guys saying ‘hey you need to pull this off we got to get back to crowds,” President of Pro Link Sports Hollis Cavner said.
Tournament organizers say everyone gets tested, including the golfers and staff. They’ve conducted well over 700 tests so far this week.
All fans are temperature checked before they’re allowed on the course.
Masks are also strongly encouraged.