Phil Mickelson Nervous About Fans Attending Vivint Houston Open Before Masters

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2020

Phil Mickelson, of the United States, watches his birdie attempt on the 13th green during the second round of the US Open Golf Championship, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Mamaroneck, N.Y. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Phil Mickelson isn't thrilled with the Vivint Houston Open having spectators at its event. 

The PGA Tour tournament, which comes a week before the Masters, will host up to 2,000 fans per day. Mickelson said Wednesday that he's considering skipping the November 5-8 tournament for that reason, per Bob Harig of ESPN:

"I think that they will do a very good, safe job in having 2,000 people at the Houston Open. However, for me personally, I don't like the risk that having that happen the week before the Masters. I just feel like the week before the Masters, like 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. But then I have to give the Tour a lot of credit and confidence in the way that they've handled the entire year and I'm sure they're going to do a great job at keeping the players safe in that environment.

"But because I haven't seen it before, because it's the first one out on the Tour with some people, I'm unsure and I don't want to take any unnecessary risks. I don't go out to dinner, I don't go out and socialize, because I want to make sure that I have an opportunity to compete in the Masters."

Mickelson added that he's considering playing Charles Schwab Cup Championship, a PGA Tour Champions event in Phoenix, instead of the Vivint Houston Open that week. 

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No PGA Tour events in the United States have been open to spectators, with the Houston Open the first in the country since March to allow fans in. The Bermuda Championship, a week prior, will be the first tour event in any location to have fans at any location. 

Harig noted the PGA Tour has seen 15 players test positive for COVID-19 since play restarted, with Adam Scott the latest.

"While it's difficult news to receive, as I really looked forward to playing this week, my focus now is on recovery for the final stretch of the fall," Scott said Wednesday in a statement, noting he was withdrawing from the Zozo Championship in California this weekend.

Mickelson has felt the PGA Tour in general has done a good job of keeping players safe during the coronavirus pandemic:

"I think the PGA Tour's done an incredible job, I mean an incredible job of getting the players to play and compete in a safe environment. We've had a few people test positive. It has not spread from those people. They've kept everybody at a good social distance so if somebody does have it, it hasn't affected and carried through the Tour. I think they've done a phenomenal job of having us feel safe."

Mickelson isn't having the best fall on the tour, finishing 44th at the Safeway Open and missing the cut at the U.S. Open. Lefty, who has won twice in as many PGA Tour Champions events for golfers 50 and older, has not played any PGA Tour events in October. Heading into the Masters on a high note would be ideal, though it sounds as though potentially rediscovering his form might take place away from the Houston Open.