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PGA Championship promises improved access


KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — The golf, because it normally is on the Ocean Course, was spectacular. Getting there to see it unfold on the PGA Championship 9 years in the past was extra of a wrestle.

The main championship returns to the dramatic, sea-swept course subsequent week with organizers promising a unique expertise for these attending.

“We did learn a lot in 2012,” event director Ryan Ogle mentioned.

There was lots to study. The Ocean Course is tucked on the finish of a barrier island within the Atlantic Ocean about 30 miles from downtown Charleston. Access a lot of the best way is restricted to two-lane roads. That led to huge visitors jams for spectators driving in and buses transporting followers, media and others.

August rainstorms throughout the third spherical Saturday did not assist, forcing everybody off the course on the identical time and turning grass-and-dirt parking heaps into mud-filled pits that had been close to not possible to drive.

The outcomes had been as many complaints about getting there as reward for Rory McIlroy’s document eight-shot victory over a Pete Dye design that hadn’t seen the world’s finest because the 1991 Ryder Cup.

There are a number of issues that may’t change, Ogle mentioned, just like the roads. “So there’s going to be slow traffic at times,” he mentioned.

But tournament leaders have changed thing s to make it simpler to get out and in. The event will not cost for parking, because it did 9 years in the past, which ought to make the method faster. There’s additionally a reconfiguration of lanes that access parking, together with a devoted highway for shuttles, which wasn’t there in 2012.

Organizers are also proscribing access to the island, Ogle mentioned, to probably the most important individuals, transferring issues like trash pickup to nighttime so it will not have an effect on individuals coming to the course.

And one of many greatest variations: the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the quantity of individuals.

Capacity on the course has been restricted to 10,000 spectators a day, a few third of the estimated 30,000 or so who filled the island for South Carolina’s first main championship in 2012.

Organizers had deliberate on about 150,000 individuals earlier than the pandemic.

“We would be ignorant to think the reduced spectators doesn’t help a little bit,” Ogle mentioned. “Regardless, we still want to plan the best we can because we know it was a challenge in 2012.”

Roger Warren, president of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, mentioned followers seemingly should put together for visitors snarls usually skilled earlier than soccer video games at Clemson and South Carolina.

“Is it going to be a protracted journey on the market? Probably. But for those who plan for it, you gained’t be upset,” said Warren, a former PGA of America president. “We are sensitive to (parking issues) and committed to making this experience better for people than it was in 2012.”

Having any fans along the course is an improvement for defending champion Collin Morikawa, the 24-year-old who captured his first major last August at Harding Park in San Francisco. It was the first major where spectators were not allowed because of the coronavirus.

Morikawa played the Ocean Course for the first time last month before going to play the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island — about 120 miles south of the major tournament site.

He said he enjoyed moving freely about courses for about a month or so after the PGA Tour’s return last June from its three-month virus break. “But it’s so enjoyable to see (fans) because they love the game,” he said. “They’re excited to see us play good golf, and they’re going to see some really interesting shots.”

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is co-chair of the PGA Championship council and was South Carolina’s governor the final time the event was held on Kiawah Island.

She believes organizers have a stable plan due to realizing what labored and the way issues may be improved on each entrance.

“That includes traffic,” she said.

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