Posted on 30th June, 2020 Source: Brad Ziemer, Guest Contributor
Nick Taylor is hoping the PGA Tour bubble doesn’t burst.
The Abbotsford pro acknowledges he’s feeling a little nervous about his impending return to the PGA Tour after a nearly four-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taylor, his wife Andie and their infant son Charlie left their Scottsdale, Arizona home in April and returned to Abbotsford to ride out the virus. Taylor delayed his return to the PGA Tour, knowing that once he leaves he will have to self-quarantine for two weeks upon his return to British Columbia.
His first tournament back will be the Workday Charity Open, the first of two back-to-back events in the Columbus, Ohio area. That tournament goes July 9-12, but Taylor was scheduled to leave the day before Canada Day to get himself settled in. He and his caddie, Jeff Willett, are taking all the necessary precautions to stay safe while they are out on the road.
“I have rented a townhouse for the three weeks so we will be in the same spot,” Taylor says. “We’ll be cooking there and doing everything we can to limit contact. My caddie and I are on the same page. We both have to do everything we can to stay COVID-free.”
Taylor’s plan, one that he thinks is best for his family, is to play out the PGA Tour season before returning home. That could last as long as nine straight weeks if Taylor goes deep into the FedEx Cup playoffs and qualifies for the Tour Championship, which runs Sept. 4-7.
As much as he will miss his wife and son, who normally travel with him on Tour, Taylor knows the right thing is to keep them safe at home.
“I am happy they are staying home because there is zero point for them to travel right now,” he says. “I am anxious about flying, but I think once I get down there it is what it is. I have made a choice to go and play. I can control everything that I do and I will be smart.”
Taylor has watched closely from afar since the PGA Tour returned to action early last month and has talked with some of his buddies on Tour. A handful of players and caddies have already tested positive and Taylor knows things could unravel in a hurry if the PGA Tour is unable to keep its bubble secure.
“The more cases that happen, it is concerning,” he says. “But I think it is inevitable. If anyone thought there weren’t going to be cases, that’s not realistic. I think the Tour will only crack down harder now with protocols and safety precautions. That’s another reason I am happy I took the first four events off.
“I think players are waking up to the fact that this is serious. They know they won’t be playing golf for a while if there’s a lot more positive cases and the Tour gets shut down. They just have to be smart.”
Despite the long layoff, Taylor is feeling good about his game. He played his home course, Ledgeview Golf Club in Abbotsford, about 10 times and also logged rounds at several other Metro Vancouver layouts. He shot a 10-under 62 at Northview Golf Club’s Ridge course a few days before he headed south.
Taylor is hoping he can continue what has been a terrific year, highlighted by his huge win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am when he beat Phil Mickelson to record his second PGA Tour win.
Like many Canadians, Taylor has watched the COVID-19 numbers south of the border with increasing concern. He and his wife have no immediate plans to return to their Scottsdale home until things improve.
“I am going to avoid going back there as long as I can. I just read that Arizona is one of the worst places in the world right now. The hard part for our PGA Tour bubble is that Florida is doing really bad, it’s not great in Texas and Arizona is bad. That’s where the majority of Tour players live, so if they are leaving to go home for a week they are going right into the fire. They talk about the bubble, but if people are coming in and out constantly every week it’s going to be a hard thing to manage.”
Taylor also has concerns about the return of fans to PGA Tour events. That is scheduled to happen at The Memorial tourney in Dublin, Ohio in mid-July when many expect Tiger Woods to play.
“You have to think that if Tiger is playing, everyone is going to want to watch Tiger,” Taylor says. “You can’t social distance when there are 5,000 people watching one person.”
Brad Ziemer covered the B.C. golf scene for the Vancouver Sun for nearly 25 years. He is a past recipient of Golf Canada’s Distinguished Service Award and the PGA of British Columbia’s Patron of the Year award.
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