Hollis Cavner was at the Players Championship and received a call at 6 a.m. Thursday from Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner. There was a meeting ready to start on the Tour’s response to the coronavirus assault on the world.
Cavner is the CEO of Pro Links Sports, the management company for the Valspar Championship, the next stop on the PGA Tour. The first of his company’s annual golf events — the WGC Mexico Championship — had been a triumph, but there would be no best-case scenario for the Valspar.
When Cavner left the Thursday meeting, the decision was to play the final three rounds of the Players, as well as the Valspar, without fans. By Friday, Monahan’s decision was to cancel the last three rounds of the Players, as well as the Valspar and two other events preceding the Masters (April 9-12).
And later in the day, the Masters announced it would not be played as scheduled — maybe played later, maybe not.
“You’re disappointed, after all the hard work [tournament director] Tracy West and her staff put in for this Valspar,’’ Cavner said. “They had sold the heck out of it for Copperhead Charities and had a very good field.
“What I found out watching Jay Monahan … this guy is solid in crisis mode. He was on the phone with the President, with the World Health Organization, with the CDC, getting the best available information.
“He asked every question imaginable and getting the answers: How many people would be exposing? Can we get young volunteers who would be at much lower risk? In the end, the right decision was made.’’
The Masters has been a golf celebration for Cavner to provide off-course hospitality and entertain clients from Pro Links’ other events. One of those is the 3M Open, scheduled for its second rendition July 23-26 at TPC Twin Cities.
The date in 2019 was on July 4 weekend. Now it comes after the British Open.
“I like this date,’’ Cavner said. “To make it easier for the players, we’re leasing a 200-seat luxury jet to come directly from England to the Twin Cities on Sunday night.’’
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• Pro Links manages two events starting the last week in April, at two excellent courses: Wells Fargo Championship (Quail Hollow) in Charlotte, and the Insperity Champions event (The Woodlands) in Houston.
• Catherine Cavner, Hollis’ wife, is the majority owner of Par Caterers, a fledgling company in the golf hospitality business.
• Bulletin: Hollis is predicting a strong field for the second 3M Open, including those Sunday fliers from Royal St. George’s.