There were plenty of questions surrounding the PGA Tour when it elected to resume its season in mid-June. While the majority of the questions involved the health and safety of players, caddies, and all involved with tournament operations, another glaring question was how things would be different without fans on the grounds.
The Tour has answered both of those questions with flying colors. There have been a handful of positive tests, which were inevitable, but it’s been relatively smooth sailing in that regard. As for no fans, the product for all of us watching the action on our couch hasn’t lacked anything, but the same can’t be said from a player’s perspective.
For guys on Tour like Rory McIlroy, who are used to playing in front of thousands of people each week, it’s been an adjustment, to say the least.
Prior to the Tour pausing its season, McIlroy had one win and four other Top 5 finishes this season. Since the season resumed without fans he’s managed just one Top 15 finish.
It’s not hard to look at McIlroy’s results since the restart and his overall demeanor to see he’s been going through the motions a bit and he admitted to doing just that during a press conference during The Northern Trust.
“This is going to sound really bad,” McIlroy said, according to GOLF. “But I feel like the last few weeks, I’ve just been going through the motions. I want to get an intensity and some sort of fire, but I just haven’t been able to. And look, that’s partly to do with the atmosphere and partly to do with how I’m playing. I’m not inspiring myself, and I’m trying to get inspiration from outside sources to get something going.”
“Maybe that’s the strategy,” he said. “I do that in practice rounds sometimes with Harry (Diamond) and we make a lot of bets and I try to shoot scores and try to win dinner, whatever it is. Maybe that.”
It does have to be extremely difficult to go from thousands of fans watching you and feeding off of that energy to having zero fans. McIlroy is someone used to seeing hundreds of fans watch him during practice rounds and now the only people watching him are TV crews and officials.