IT’S debatable whether golf fans or the players themselves will be hungrier and more excited for the official restart of the US PGA Tour this week but the rescheduled Charles Schwab Challenge has certainly attracted a top field to the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
The tournament will feature the top five in the Official World Golf Ranking, the first time that’s happened at this event since 1986.
There will also be a swag of top Aussie golfers, including Jason Day, Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith,Matt Jones and John Senden.
It’s obvious that after the three month tour hiatus due to COVID-19 the world’s leading golfers are itching to return to elite competition, thought there will be no fans present and strict health and safety protocols will be in play.
Notable in that corner will be world #1 Rory McIlroy, the reigning FedEx Cup champion, who will be playing the event for the very first time in his career. Also in that category is #4 Justin Thomas.
Previous participants include #2 Jon Rahm, #3 Brooks Koepka and #5 Dustin Johnson, who is making his third Colonial start, but his first since 2014.
Thomas and McIlroy are among the top nine players in the FedEx Cup standings, led by Sungjae Im, who have committed to play. Of the top 20 in the standings, 17 will be at Colonial, including defending champ Kevin Na, who is 11th.
“Golf fans are hungry to watch some golf,” tournament chairman Rob Hood told the local media. “I think the whole world will be watching Fort Worth, Texas.”
Of the world’s top 20 ranked players, 15 are scheduled to play at Colonial, including reigning Open Championship winner Shane Lowry, making just his second start on American soil this season. The Irishman has been in Florida during the pandemic and will play mostly in the U.S. for the next few months.
“I think this is a good opportunity for golf to be one of the first sports to get back on TV and maybe people are so starved and deprived of live sport that it might get a few more people into the game,” Lowry said.
The tournament was originally slated for May 21-24 but was moved to June 11-14 after the COVID-19 pandemic forced a raft of schedule changes.
The Charles Schwab Challenge will be the first full Tour event to be staged since the season went on hiatus after the pandemic took hold during THE PLAYERS Championship in March, forcing its cancellation after the first round.
Charles Schwab Challenge TV Times
Live coverage on FoxSports and Kayo from 6am Friday.