Rory McIlroy Urges Drastic Action Against Coronavirus After PGA Tour Suspends The Players Championship: 'Everyone Has to Be Tested'

Rory McIlroy has urged every golfer in the world to get tested for coronavirus after the PGA Tour decided to suspend the sport for at least a month due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

The Northern Irishman was among the players in action in the first round of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and suggested the sport had to "be shutdown" to battle the virus.

"Everyone needs to get tested," McIlroy, the world No.1, said after he completed his first round.

"I saw there's commercial labs now that are testing at some capacity, I guess, and for us to keep playing on the PGA Tour, all the tour players and people who are involved need to get tested and make sure no one's got it.

"Because everyone knows you can have it and not have symptoms and pass it on to someone who's more susceptible to getting very ill from it."

McIlroy's call to shut down the sport came to pass as the PGA Tour decided to cancel the remaining three rounds of The Players Championship and the next three events on its calendar—the Valspar Championship, the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and the Valero Texas Open.

The PGA Tour had initially announced the first round of The Players Championship would go ahead as normal, while the remaining three rounds of its flagship event would be played without fans. Late on Thursday night, however, the organization altered its course and opted to call the sport off for the foreseeable future.

"It is with regret that we are announcing the cancellation of The Players Championship," the tour said in a statement. "We have also decided to cancel all PGA Tour events—across all of our Tours—in the coming weeks, through the Valero Texas Open.

"We have pledged from the start to be responsible, thoughtful and transparent with our decision process. We did everything possible to create a safe environment for our players in order to continue the event throughout the weekend, and we were endeavoring to give our fans a much-needed respite from the current climate.

"But at this point—and as the situation continues to rapidly change—the right thing to do for our players and our fans is to pause."

As it stands, the suspension doesn't affect The Masters, which is scheduled to get underway on April 9 in Augusta, Georgia. However, the possibility of the first major of the season being played behind closed doors or not be held at all can't be discounted.

"It would be very unusual without hearing the roars echoing through the valley," Jordan Spieth told reporters after his first round at TPC Sawgrass.

"You can feed off a crowd anywhere and it can also add a bit of pressure as well, in certain situations. This isn't ideal for anyone but I think if you polled the players we would rather have the Masters go on without spectators than not go on at all. I think you would probably get a unanimous vote on that one. But it's a shame."

As of Friday morning, over 1,600 cases have been reported in the U.S., with 40 deaths and 12 people recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

Over 4,700 people have died since the outbreak of coronavirus began in Wuhan, a city located in China's central Hubei province, late last year. There are over 128,000 cases globally, with 68,000 recovered.

Rory McIlroy, PGA Tour
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland putts on the 10th green during the first round of The PLAYERS Championship on The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 12 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Sam Greenwood/Getty

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