Pandemic, wild weather forces changes at this year's Farmers Insurance Open

Parking at the Farmers Insurance Open
Posted at 6:40 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 13:15:25-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- This week's Farmers Insurance Open comes with quite a few changes. There will be no fans due to the pandemic, and Tiger Woods is a no show because of back surgery.

One other change is the weather, it doesn't happen too often, but rain is in the forecast. Rain and heavy winds on Monday left a debris field of twigs and branches scattered around the course, but tournament director Marty Gorsich is not too concerned.

"For golf, rain is third on our list, you can play in the rain. We've had our share of rain to play in, but it's been a while," said Gorsich.

Now rain did force a cancellation to Monday's smaller pro-am, which is one of three primary ways the tournament generates revenue for charities.

"Losing yesterday was difficult," says Gorsich. "It's a tricky one. We are getting through it, understanding all those hits to your revenues, and all those new expenses. It's going to be very challenging for us."

Fan attendance is another major stream of revenue, and this week, there won't be a patron on the course. The roped area that lines the fairways will be empty, no shouts of "it's in the hole," and the grandstands are non-existent. The pandemic has changed the game of golf just a bit.

"The way the course sets up visually, without all those grandstands, bleachers, and suites, makes the game a bit different. Now you can't hit the ball over the hole and expect a free drop, because it went into the suites. You're going to have to play it where it lies in a lot of cases," Gorsich said.

So the 156-player field isn't going to see any fans, and they also aren't going to see Tiger Woods either, as the 7-time winner of the event will miss the Torrey Pines tour stop due to recent surgery.

"I wouldn't say you are ever Tiger proofed, but we have shown fans there are a lot more reasons to be here than just Tiger," said Gorsich. "But if you were ever going to have a year where Tiger wasn't here, to have it in a year without fans, makes it easier as well."