They expected to be teeing it up in the San Luis Potosi Open in Mexico last week, but instead, Victoria’s Stuart Anderson was playing golf in Stockton, Calif., and Winnipeg’s Adam Speirs found himself on an 18-hour automobile odyssey from Memphis back home to Manitoba.
“I’m very disappointed because of the way I’ve been playing lately. I like the golf course (in San Luis Potosi) and wanted to have another good finish, but sometimes, safety first,” said Anderson, who tied for fourth the previous week at the Corona Mazatlan Classic Mexican PGA Championship.
“Two of the last three events, I was right in the mix and just couldn’t get it done,” said Anderson, who couldn’t even get it started last week in San Luis Potosi, one of three tournaments on the Canadian Tour’s Mexican Swing that were postponed last week due to the outbreak of the H1N1 virus in that country.
Anderson quickly found himself in transit from San Luis Potosi to Mexico City to Los Angeles, where he had a 10-hour layover before flying to San Francisco. He was expecting to be back home in Victoria on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Speirs flew from San Luis Potosi to Houston to Memphis before his land travels back to Winnipeg after first getting word of the possible pandemic the week before in Mazatlan from players who had missed the cut and called home to their families, many of which told them to get out of Mexico.
Some players did just that with the blessing of the tour, which made it a personal decision for players under such circumstances, while others moved on to San Luis Potosi where they became more aware of H1N1.
“What I saw that was visible is how clean they were trying to make everything,” said Speirs. “It was a lot of non-stop cleaning going on, some people wearing masks, restaurants shut down. It was interesting to see how cautious they were in trying to keep everything sterile and very clean.
“For example, we went to the supermarket one day and somebody was there cleaning carts before they gave one to you and then, when you returned it, there was somebody there to clean the cart after you used it, so I’m pretty sure that’s not standard fare,” said Speirs.
For the most part, however, players limited their travels to between the hotel and golf course, which wasn’t allowing access to anybody but tour officials and players.
“I didn’t really see that much,” said Speirs. “We didn’t have any interaction with many people from the city because they had closed the clubhouse. They had taken some pretty good precautions.
“I was actually staying with the superintendent of the golf course, who lives 400 yards away from the clubhouse, so myself and Wes Heffernan went from the clubhouse to where we were staying and that was it really,” he added.
While those precautions limited their access to the outside world, they also caused a strange feeling for players used to having fans and caddies milling about and going to restaurants once their rounds are over.
“It was eerie at times, to be honest,” said Speirs. “Monday was an eerie, creepy sort of day, very quiet at the golf course and not much going on really.
“It was unique,” he added. “It was something that I had never experienced. At the same time, I never felt like I was in any sort of danger. I guess we didn’t have CNN to listen to 24 hours a day to make us nervous.”
Anderson recalls playing last Wednesday, the day the San Luis Potosi event was cancelled.
“I came through my ninth hole and looked around and there’s nobody on the driving range, nobody on the putting green, so I knew there was something wrong here. I walked up to the clubhouse and saw it was cancelled,” said Anderson, who, despite his disappointment, understands the decision.
“I think part of the reason for the whole cancellation of our tournament is because we were the only sporting event in Mexico during this crisis,” said Anderson, adding the last thing he’d want to do is go home and pass along the virus to his 22-month-old daughter.
“Who knows? We could have played this tournament Sunday and Monday comes around and the U.S. closes their border or the airport’s shut down,” he said.
Speirs agreed. “I think the majority of the players understood,” he said. “If something really does happen and breaks out, not one of us wanted to be down there for a 40-day quarantine.”
Players will now have to wait until the beginning of June for their next taste of competition on the Canadian Tour, but on the flip side, the cancelled Mexican events may be moved into fall dates that set players up nicely heading into PGA Tour qualifying school.
“In past years, we’ve been trying to fill that void,” said Anderson. “I know we end up with the Tour Championship in September and we’ve got two months before we’ve got to play Q-school and we’re not tournament-ready. All of a sudden, we’ve got to play in the biggest tournament of the year.”