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The 18th green during a practice round for the Travelers Championship on Wednesday. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Despite multiple positive coronavirus tests and the withdrawal of two top-five players — Brooks Koepka (caddie tested positive) and Webb Simpson (family member tested positive) — the show will go on today at the Travelers Championship.

The intrigue: In the two weeks since the PGA Tour returned, players have recorded notably low scores, suggesting the fanless environment could be helping them focus.

  • RBC Heritage (last week): Simpson set a new tournament scoring record at 22-under, and three more players finished 20-under or better.
  • Charles Schwab Challenge (two weeks ago): 15 players shot 65 or lower during Round 1, the most such scores during any round at Colonial Country Club — a history that dates back to 1941.

The state of play:

  • Course: TPC River Highlands
  • Location: Cromwell, Connecticut

What they're saying: Jordan Spieth believes it's easier to win without fans, particularly for players not used to contending and facing pressure-packed greens on Saturday and Sunday.

"In general, it's easier to win on the PGA Tour without fans is what I've seen the first couple weeks. It's easier to just be zoned in on pure golf."
— Spieth

The other side: While ESPN senior golf writer Bob Harig agrees with Spieth that the lack of fans could help less experienced players down the stretch, he isn't convinced it's a boon overall.

  • "A guy like Tiger feeds off [the crowd's energy], and it can be really tough to play against him," he told me. "Same for Phil. I bet Jordan benefits from it too."
  • As for the low scoring these past two weeks, Harig suggests it was more about venue and conditions.

The bottom line: Whether the lack of fans has led to lower scores or not, golf has clearly been less impacted by the fanless environment — and the lengthy shutdown — than virtually any other sport.

Looking ahead: Under the current plan, the PGA Tour will play its first five events without fans before welcoming spectators for the Memorial Tournament, scheduled for July 16–19 in Dublin, Ohio.

Go deeper: Golf could set the standard for sports' coronavirus reset

Go deeper

Sep 30, 2020 - Sports

Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak

A worker cleans a handrail at a Tennessee Titans game. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The NFL announced that Sunday's game between the Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers has been delayed after several Titans players and staffers tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: It's the league's first game delay caused by a COVID-19 outbreak during the season, which is not taking place in a "bubble," like the NBA and MLS.

Netflix tops 200 million global subscribers

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Netflix said that it added another 8.5 million global subscribers last quarter, bringing its total number of paid subscribers globally to more than 200 million.

The big picture: Positive fourth quarter results show Netflix's resiliency, despite increased competition and pandemic-related production headwinds.

Janet Yellen plays down debt, tax hike concerns in confirmation hearing

Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen at an event in December. (Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images)

Janet Yellen, Biden's pick to lead the Treasury Department, pushed back against two key concerns from Republican senators at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday: the country's debt and the incoming administration's plans to eventually raise taxes.

Driving the news: Yellen — who's expected to win confirmation — said spending big now will prevent the U.S. from having to dig out of a deeper hole later. She also said the Biden administration's priority right now is coronavirus relief, not raising taxes.