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US PGA will go ahead without spectators in August


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Tough assignment: Rory McIlroy at Hilton Head

Tough assignment: Rory McIlroy at Hilton Head

AP

Tough assignment: Rory McIlroy at Hilton Head

August's US PGA Championship is scheduled to go ahead at San Francisco's TPC Harding Park without spectators.

The event will be the year's first Major after July's Open was postponed until next year and The Masters and US Open were moved back to November and September respectively.

A decision to play behind closed doors was made by the PGA of America in co-ordination with the state of California and city and county of San Francisco.

PGA of America chief executive Seth Waugh said: "We are both inspired and honoured to play on. We'd like to thank the state of California and the city and county of San Francisco for being terrific partners in helping us get to this place.

"While the local community cannot be with us physically on-site, we will certainly carry their spirit of resilience and unity with us as we stage our Major Championship, on their behalf, for all the world to see and enjoy."

American Brooks Koepka is looking to win an historic third successive title at the event, itself initially scheduled for May.

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy has admitted he may not be back to Harbour Town Golf Links any time soon after a tied-41st finish at the RBC Heritage.

The World No.1 had given himself a sliver of a chance at a come-from-behind run at the title on the final day having pulled back to five shots off the leaders with a strong third round.

But in the end it would have needed a round in the 50s for McIlroy to be in with a shot of winning as Webb Simpson's excellent finish saw the overnight leader pull away and win by a single stroke from Abraham Ancer at 22 under par.

Instead, it was another frustrating final round for McIlroy, who dropped two shots in his opening seven holes and never recovered, with his one-under 70 only good enough to get him to 11 under par and a middle of the pack finish.

"Once I got here and I played the golf course, I sort of remembered why I haven't been here for a while. It's tough," McIlroy acknowledged.

"It's a lovely place. There's other courses on Tour that probably fit my game a little bit better and obviously the week after The Masters (when the tournament is traditionally held in mid-April) is always a tough one.

"Guys like to come here and decompress, but my idea of decompression is not seeing golf clubs for a week."

Despite picking up a birdie at the par-five second, McIlroy's hopes of mounting a challenge were derailed when he took on the tight pin at the par-three fourth and found the water with his tee shot, leading to a double-bogey five.

Another bogey followed at the par-three seventh, meaning birdies at the ninth, 15th and 17th were scant consolation for the 31-year-old, who will now turn his attention to this week's Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut.

McIlroy added: "I got off to a decent start and then the ball in the water on four just of stopped any momentum. I played okay after that, I guess. I birdied nine and then birdied a couple coming in on the home stretch.

"It's fine. It's one of those weeks where, obviously, low scores, very bunched. You had to hole a lot of putts and I didn't over the week. But I'm still pretty happy with how I played going into next weekend in Hartford."

Graeme McDowell and Open champion Shane Lowry will also be in the field at this week's Travelers Championship, which begins on Thursday.

Belfast Telegraph