Taylor Pendrith isn’t used to his weekly nasal swabbing just yet, but he’s getting there.
Pendrith and his peers on the Korn Ferry Tour get tested for COVID-19 at the start of every week as part of the second-tier golf tour’s safety protocols as it restarts its season. The Richmond Hill, Ont., native passed his most recent test, allowing him to compete at this week’s King & Bear Classic.
“They’re uncomfortable but it’s only 10 seconds, it’s not too bad,” said Pendrith a day after his most recent swabbing. “Not something I would want to get every Monday for the rest of the year but it might have to be that way.”
Golfers are not allowed to play on the Korn Ferry Tour until they get back a negative result from their weekly test. They’re also asked to stay in Tour-sanctioned hotels, fly in chartered planes filled exclusively with players and caddies, and generally try to stay within their bubble. Caddies are also armed with sanitizing wipes to clean off rakes and flagsticks after they’re used.
Pendrith says all these steps have helped him feel safe after the Korn Ferry Tour resumed play last Thursday at the Korn Ferry Challenge at TPC Sawgrass.
“The Tour’s done a really good job of trying to put everything in place, different measures to allow us to compete,” said Pendrith. “All the guys out here and the staff and everybody involved in the tournament have been doing a really good job of following the guidelines.”
Although Pendrith recognizes that the unscheduled three-month break in professional golf’s calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic was hard on the industry, it had some benefits for him personally.
Pendrith returned home to Canada when golf — like all professional sports — suspended play. He had struggled at the start of the season with a flu that became bronchitis and also used the time off to heal up an injured shoulder.
Most importantly, he proposed to his girlfriend Meg Beirnes, a registered nurse in the hematology and stem cell transplant department at Hamilton General Hospital.
“I had other plans but obviously they got changed with the pandemic,” said Pendrith. “But it’s super exciting for us and hopefully I get to see her soon once the border opens up but for now we’re in different countries, relying on Zoom calls.”
Pendrith is tied for third at 7-under with seven other golfers at the week’s King & Bear Classic. He entered the tournament ranked 64th. Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont. is tied for 25th at 5-under and Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C. is tied at 144th at 2-over.
PGA TOUR — Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., moved up to 46th in the FedExCup standings after tying for 19th at last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge. He’s back in the field this week at the RBC Heritage. He’ll be joined by Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., and Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont.
LPGA TOUR — The LPGA Tour announced on Tuesday it will return from its COVID-19 shutdown with the new Drive On Championship three-day event from July 31 to Aug. 2. Held at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, it will be played without spectators, a pro-am or sponsors. The LPGA has been suspended for over five months, after the novel coronavirus outbreak shut down the Tour following the Women’s Australia Open on Feb. 16.
OSPREY VALLEY — TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley announced the creation of The Face-off on Wednesday, a one-day celebrity competition on June 30 between teams captained by Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas and TSN host James Duthie. There will be $60,000 in donations to local charities on the line. The $60,000 is on top of the $350,000 in donations already announced by TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley and the Humeniuk Foundation towards COVID-19 relief efforts and community services this spring.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2020.
John Chidley-Hill’s weekly golf notebook is published on Wednesdays.
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John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press