PGA Tour aims for June return without fans

The PGA Tour released a revised schedule Thursday with the first four events played without spectators, starting with the June 11-14 Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.

The new calendar runs through the beginning of December and includes the final 14 events of the 2019-20 season and the first 13 events of the 2020-21 campaign.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)

Bettors flocking toward NFL draft props

The NFL Draft is providing some welcome action for sports bettors, and at least a short-term boost for sportsbooks hit hard by the shutdown of all major sports due to the coronavirus pandemic.

PointsBet is offering approximately 175 markets for the 2020 NFL Draft, and more than a week out from the event the book has seen almost as much action as it did for the entire 2019 draft. PointsBet director of communications Patrick Eichner said the company is expecting 2 1/2 more turnover year-over-year by the end of the 2020 draft. and are offering an over/under prop of 4.5 quarterbacks being selected in the first round, with the over at +340 and the under at -455. Tagovailoa is -286 to be the second quarterback off the board, followed by Oregon’s Justin Herbert at +180.

Alabama and LSU lead the way on school-specific props, with both having 5.5 over/unders for the number of players selected in the first round.

“Last minute pick trades make later selections more unpredictable,” Stetz said. “You never know what’s going to happen and that’s what makes it so exciting!”

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)

Riot reveals plans for Valorant esports ‘ecosystem’

Valorant is an instant hit, and Riot Games is planning for even greater rapid growth.

“We aspire to build the highest quality broadcast experience that both showcases the creativity, teamwork and clutch moments we love about this game for experienced fans and makes it easy for new fans to discover their love of esports,” Rozelle said.

“There’s no doubt that, as a hyper-competitive experience, Valorant has the ingredients to be a successful esport — and we have big dreams for what this can be — but we want to be thoughtful in how we put it all together.”

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)

Reports: MLS on hold until at least June 8

Major League Soccer will not return until at least June 8, according to multiple reports.

The timetable is in line with the latest official word from MLS, which was confirmation that a hoped for mid-May return would not happen due to the ongoing restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

Commissioner Don Garber said MLS remains focused on getting in as many games as possible. Garber expanded the league’s guidelines prohibiting group workouts, which initially stretched to April 24.

Don Garber
MLS Commissioner Don Garber. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

“From tournament formats and neutral locations, ultimately playing an abridged regular season, but doing everything to get as many games,” Garber told ESPN.

The return date in the second week of June would be in line with the reported planned return of the PGA Tour, which will be June 11 in Texas. The Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth would be played without fans, along with other golf events through July, according to Golf Digest.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday in a Snapchat interview that he could envision a path for sports to return in the summer, but it would be on the condition that fans did not attend events.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)

Report: PGA Tour to restart in Texas on June 11

Golf is coming back with the rescheduled Charles Schwab Challenge on June 11 in Texas, Golf Digest reported.

The tournament was scheduled for Memorial Day weekend (May 21-24) at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)

Fauci: Sports return without fans possible this summer

Doors closed on the sports world over a month ago, but Dr. Anthony Fauci sees a path to the games returning this summer.

Dr. Anthony Fauci
REUTERS/Leah Millis

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and an immunology specialist, is leading the United States’ response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In short, the key is simple: access to testing and quick and accurate results from those tests. And no fans in the stands.

“There’s a way of doing that,” Fauci told Snapchat’s show “Good Luck America” when asked if there was going to be a college football season in 2020. “Nobody comes to the stadiums. Put (athletes) in big hotels, wherever you want to play. Keep them very well-surveilled, but have them tested like every week and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their families and just let them play the season out.”

The model is akin to the NBA’s plan, which reportedly includes housing players in adjoining hotels in Las Vegas or the Bahamas with multiple gyms available for games to be played in but without fans in attendance.

Major League Baseball also reportedly has plotted playing in Arizona, where players would be housed in hotels near spring training baseball sites for games.

The final two segments of the three-part interview with Fauci are being released by Snapchat on Thursday and Friday.

President Donald Trump said he will seek input from a panel of sports commissioners and owners, including NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, as he looks to reopen the American economy.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)

Tour de France to start Aug. 29

The Tour de France will take place Aug. 29 to Sept. 20, the International Cycling Union announced Wednesday.

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Confident McIlroy favorite to win fall Masters

There’s room on the Rory McIlroy completing the career Grand Slam wagon in 2020, but hurry up, space is getting limited.

The Masters is the only remaining check mark on McIlroy’s career slam.

The 30-year-old has five top-10 finishes and has missed the cut only once in 11 starts at Augusta National, but he has yet to be able to claim his first green jacket.

Jack Nicklaus believes the tournament being rescheduled to Nov. 12-15 will benefit McIlroy, who has won nine of his 18 PGA Tour events after Aug. 1.

Even the world’s top ranked player acknowledged this week that the later date may be “what I need to get the (green) jacket.”

Sportsbooks clearly agree.

McIlroy would have been favored if the tournament had been held in April, but he’s a heavy favorite despite the postponed event now being seven months away.

McIlroy is being offered at +600 by FanDuel, +650 by DraftKings and +700 by PointsBet.

“November is going to be different,” the Northern Ireland native said of the rescheduled Masters. “It’s going to be cold. The course can play very long.

“I mean, it plays long already, but it could play very long. The greens might not be as fast as they usually are in April, depending on the moisture. Obviously, they can do whatever they want with the course with SubAir and everything, but I think it’ll be a different feel as well.”

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy’s best Masters finish was fourth place five years ago. (Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports)

The Masters also presents a limited field to compete against, with 96 players scheduled to tee it up at Augusta National. Anyone who wins between now and November who is not previously qualified will qualify for the 2021 edition of the tournament.

And rather than being the first major of the year, the Masters is currently scheduled to be the last of three in 2020 while also following the Ryder Cup scheduled for September.

“It’s the back end of the year as two of the majors (will) have already been played — hopefully, the Ryder Cup’s already been played,” McIlroy said. “People might be in their routines and in their flow a little bit.”

And sportsbooks are predicting that McIlroy’s routine come November will be better than the other 95 players in the field.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)

Chip Ganassi Racing fires Larson after racial slur

Chip Ganassi Racing fired driver Kyle Larson on Tuesday, two days after he used a racial slur during a livestream broadcast of a virtual race.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)

Tour de France postponed due to coronavirus

Another landmark sporting event — the Tour de France — is postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 23-day, 21-stage cycling event was scheduled to begin June 27 in the city of Nice, but organizers bowed to concerns for the health of riders and support crews after French president Emmanuel Macron canceled all public events with large crowds until mid-July.

Egan Bernal
Egan Bernal of Colombia celebrates winning the 2019 Tour de France. (REUTERS/Christian Hartmann)

Because of the massive live audience the race draws, the security and police presence around the event is also significant.

But organizers are holding out hope the race will go on later in the year.

“Given that it’s now impossible that the Tour starts at its planned date, we are consulting with the International Cycling Union to try and find new dates,” organizers said in a statement.

The Tour de France started in 1903 and is the most popular cycling event in the world. It was last postponed in 1946 at the end of World War II.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)