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Phil Mickelson doesn't want to risk playing in front of fans before Masters

Liz Roscher

Phil Mickelson is almost ready for the Masters, which was rescheduled from April to November this year due to the COVID-29 pandemic. But the pandemic may continue to affect his preparations.

Mickelson, who usually preps for the Masters by playing in a tournament the week before, told the Associated Press that he is considering scrapping his plan to play at the Houston Open next week. Why? Because that’s going to be the first PGA event in the United States to host spectators since the start of the pandemic, and Mickelson doesn’t want to risk getting sick.

Mickelson: Spectators are a risk

“I think that they will do a very good, safe job in having 2,000 people at the Houston Open,” Mickelson told the Associated Press Wednesday at the Zozo Championship at Sherwood. “However, for me personally, I don’t like the risk of having that happen the week before the Masters. I just feel like the week before the Masters, that’s a big tournament we have and I just don’t want to have any risk heading in there. So it has made me question whether or not I’ll play there.”

He hasn’t made up his mind yet, though. He said he would likely play at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix if it doesn’t allow fans. As of now, the plan at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship is to allow just 350 spectators, all club members. They’ll have to submit to temperature checks and wear masks at all times, and while they can watch the tournament on the course, they cannot congregate anywhere besides one limited area in the clubhouse.

RICHMOND, VA - OCTOBER 18: Phil Mickelson is all smiles after winning the PGA TOUR Champions Dominion Energy Charity Classic at The Country Club of Virginia on October 18, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)
Phil Mickelson is worried about the risk of playing in front of fans before the Masters. (Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Mickelson said that he didn’t doubt that the Houston Open would be a safe environment, but since it’s the first tournament to have fans he doesn’t want to take any unnecessary risks. And with the required COVID-19 tests at the Masters, playing in front of fans in Houston is an unnecessary risk.

“That’s the scare,” Mickelson said. “Because I know that I’ve been able to stay safe, that my circle ... has been safe, so we’ve made all those precautions. But the false positives is the thing that scares me.”

Top golfers catch COVID-19

The golf world has seen several top ranked pros catch COVID-19 and withdraw from recent events. Dustin Johnson, the world’s No. 1 ranked golfer, and Adam Scott, the world’s No. 15 ranked golfer, have both recently tested positive for COVID-19 and withdrawn from the Zozo Championship.

Johnson actually tested positive for COVID-19 last week, and had to withdraw from the CJ Cup as well. He still plans to be healthy and ready for the Masters, however, and plans to play at the Houston Open as his pre-Masters tune-up.

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