FORT WORTH, Texas — The start was even more quiet than usual for a Thursday morning on the PGA Tour, only the silence never left over the next 12 hours as golf was back to business at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Sung Kang made a hole-in-one on the 13th hole and didn’t realize it until he was 50 yards from the green.
“I’m like, ‘Wow, it’s in the hole.’ It wasn’t really crazy. Nobody was really up there, only a few people out there just clapping a little bit,” Kang said. “I still appreciated it, though.”
Phil Mickelson made a birdie and instinctively pinched the brim of his cap to acknowledge a crowd that wasn’t there.
Ryan Palmer, a Colonial member who raised money for COVID-19 relief efforts during the shutdown, was chosen to hit the first official shot on the PGA Tour in three months. Those gathered around the first tee could barely hear him announced. The starter was wearing a mask, and his voice competed with the hum of a generator behind the ninth green.
Quiet as it was, Colonial came to a standstill at 8:46 a.m. when everyone on the course honored a moment of silence for the death of George Floyd and the outrage it has sparked worldwide on racial injustice.
It was a most unusual round of golf.
But it was golf.
“I think just being out here is successful, to be honest with you, getting started,” Palmer said. “I don’t see anything holding us back moving forward. I think today was the biggest day, just getting this first day off. People are going to watch golf back home and be interested to watch it tomorrow, and that’s a great thing.”
Justin Rose and Harold Varner shared the lead at 7-under 63, with Justin Thomas among those a stroke back. Tom Lehman, a 61-year-old former champion at Colonial, got in on the act with a 65.
Conditions were ripe for good scores with no cheers.
“It kind of feels like a competitive practice round,” said Rose, who won at Colonial two years ago. “But obviously, I think we all know what’s on the line. We all know what we’re playing for. We all know the competition this week especially, the field is incredible. Obviously, we miss the fans. They definitely provide a ton of energy and atmosphere.”
Golf is the second major sport in the U.S., behind motor sports, to resume a schedule shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the safety measures are coronavirus tests for every player, caddie and essential personnel. Of the 487 tests at Colonial, the results were all negative.