There have already been some sports sightings. NASCAR returned last Sunday with the Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway, with no fans. UFC came out swinging the week before. A little further, we've seen German football and South Korean baseball catch the attention of action-starved sports fans.
Last Sunday's game Taylor Relief Driving Relief with Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Matthew Wolff and Rickie Fowler marked the return of golf. And although it was not an official Tour event, it was entertaining and somewhat competitive. McIlroy and Johnson won, and the event raised $ 5 million for the American Nurses Foundation and the CDC Foundation, major organizations in the fight against the coronavirus.
This weekend we will have another kind of competition, when Woods and Manning team up against Mickelson and Brady at the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida. COVID-19 relief is again the cause, with at least $ 10 million going to organizations including Direct Relief, the American Red Cross, Save Small Business, and All In Challenge.
As with last Sunday's event, the level of intensity and competition will not meet Tour standards. It doesn't matter that two of the four elite athletes are known for their feats in soccer, not golf. But the event will offer another look at the near future of the game.
Is Tiger Woods ready, from a health perspective, for a busy season of golf? His game has been way up and down since his Masters win over a year ago. Tiger's two 2020 appearances ended in a T9 at the Farmers Insurance Open in January and a 68 at the Genesis Invitational in February. Weeks after his brutal weekend at Riviera, he retired from the Players Championship. Woods said in a tweet: “I have to listen to my body and get adequate rest when necessary. My back just isn't ready to play next week. "
The players were subsequently canceled, and professional golf has been on hiatus ever since. This will be the first time Tiger has been seen on the course since the February collapse. The look of his swing could now be a clue to his preparation for what could be a busy schedule, at least for him.
What will competitive golf tournaments be like in the coronavirus era? In the near future, they will probably look a lot like a typical Sunday afternoon at any local golf course. That is, apart from the green virgins and world-class players.
This Sunday's event, like last Sunday and those of the coming weeks, will not include live spectators. The experience is a little jarring for any big sports fan. But if any sport lends itself to social distancing, it is golf. It's not too obvious about it, but there is plenty of room and nobody has to touch anyone else during the course of the game. In fact, there is already a label understood to give space to other players in times of competition. All of this was made even clearer at last Sunday's charity event and should unfold in a similar way this Sunday.
That does not mean that the players do not interact. The Champions for Charity match, like Driving Relief, will surely include a lot of jokes. And it will be even more audible with players with open microphones. It's a side of the game, any game, really, that fans generally just catch snippets. Competitiveness should be marked again on Sunday, and trash talk should be marked. The opposite would be true for a Tour event, of course. Still, continued dialogue between participants could be a way to recoup some of the energy lost in the absence of fans. And Champions for Charity could offer some clues on how.