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San Francisco Crowds Gather to Watch PGA Championship Despite Barriers

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The best golfers in the world teed it up on Thursday at San Francisco's TPC Harding Park Course for the opening round of the PGA Championship.

Normally, thousands of fans would be lining the fairways. But this year, in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, there were no fans allowed.

That didn't stop rabid golf fans from trying to catch a glimpse of the likes of Tiger Woods, Jason Day or Rory McIlroy. Not far from PGA Championship's 11th green and the 12th tee box there was a small but determined gallery, even for a tournament that officially has no spectators.

They've been gathering around TPC Harding Park, trying to stare through the screens surrounding the course.

"Yeah, we came out to walk around the lake," explained Sue Martin. "We knew the PGA was here so we're trying to see if there are any spots that we could look through."

Anyone who came to catch a glimpse of this year's only major probably came away a little underwhelmed.

"We just came for a quick peek, to see what we could see," one golf fan said. "It's a shame that they put the screens on the fence."

Even though there really wasn't much to see that didn't stop people from trying.

"Oh yeah, the hole," Martin said, referring to one of the multiple holes along the fence tarping. "I didn't do it."

The sidewalk is public property and while police are discouraging crowds, they haven't exactly made anyone leave yet.

So, what is the viewing experience like here?

In a word, 'distant,' and that is a loss for golf fans. Go to a football game and fans may find themselves sitting in upper decks, removed from the action. Go to a golf tournament, and a fan may find themself walking on the fairway in the middle of sports history. For its air of eliteness, the game normally provides remarkable access.

"You know, on an intimacy level," said Sean, trying to catch some of the PGA Championship with a pair of binoculars. "You're right up there in it."

The few holes in the fence, not much of a substitution, and even they may not last. PGA officials are aware of what's happening here. Expect more fencing.

"It is what it is," Sean says. "They kind of blocked us out, but we're making the most of it."

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