PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Paul Casey didn’t want to speak for his fellow PGA Tour pros, but the Englishman said he can relate to the urgency to return to our former way of life.

“All I know is that I think like a lot of people out there, like the general public, we’re kind of getting to the point, we just want to crack on with things and get back to normal,” Casey said.

What’s normal anymore?

After a 13-week layoff in June due to the global pandemic, the PGA Tour was one of the first pro sports to return to competition. Each tournament has been played as scheduled and testing and screening measures have been executed without any major glitches. The traveling circus has taken a gradual and considerate approach to bringing back fans of late to its tournaments (in accordance with state and local rules), with as many as 10,000 spectators per day in attendance at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans last week.

Count Casey among the Tour pros who already have been vaccinated. He said his wife, Polly, volunteered in their home state of Arizona so that she could get early access to the vaccine.

“Arizona was quite speedy in opening up the vaccine,” he said. “I noticed like the UK have just opened it up to 44 and older. I’m 43, so if I was in the UK right now I wouldn’t even have the opportunity to get it.”

Instead, he’s approaching a very different scenario where he no longer will be required to produce a negative result from a COVID-19 test.

“In another few days,” he explained, “I will be out of that testing requirement and able to just get my lanyard and then cruise on to the property.”

The PGA Tour sent an email to players last week indicating that those who are fully vaccinated will not have to take a COVID-19 test before entering an event.

The days of using “an abundance of caution,” the buzz phrase of 2020, seem to be over.

In New Orleans, fans were required to wear a mask but hardly anyone bothered to do so and no one made an effort to enforce it.

Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Fans pose in front of the Zurich Classic sign during the second round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. (Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports)

Just as player testing is being scaled back and the mask policy is being ignored, the PGA Tour announced the most players in one week to test positive since it introduced testing. All four players – Brice Garnett, Will Gordon, Tyrrell Hatton and Sepp Straka – competed at TPC Louisiana last week.

“Touch wood they didn’t pass it on to anybody else and didn’t affect anybody else,” said Casey, who noted he’d walked through a meeting on his way to his pre-tournament news conference at the Valspar Championship where a Tour official was discussing the vaccine with players.

“I think microchips might have been mentioned in that conversation, I’m not sure.”

The PGA Tour continues to dip its toe into a return to normalcy while fearing for the worst: the dreaded threat of being branded as a super-spreader event in one of its cities. How many fans is too many fans and how do they get back to delivering the on-site client entertainment that made so many Fortune 500 businesses sign up? Those are questions above Casey’s pay grade, he said.

“I’m still worried about international travel coming up,” Casey said. “I’ve got to go play the Porsche [European Open in Germany] in a few weeks and then the Open Championship [in England in July], and I want to go on holiday with my mates. I usually go to Italy, and that’s not going to happen for another year. So, I’m sick of it, and I’m willing to do the things necessary to get through it.”

The PGA Tour will need more of its players to adopt Casey’s philosophy and continue to buy in to doing what’s “necessary to get through it,” as well as determine an effective means to enforce its mask policy – or else just not have one.

Our new normal feels closer than ever, but the fact that four players tested positive after the Tour’s visit to The Big Easy suggests it may be jumping the gun on business as usual.

“I don’t want to get up on a soapbox and kind of scream it, but we all want to get through this, and how else are we going to get through it unless everybody has got antibodies or we get vaccinated,” he said.

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