The Players Championship has been cancelled with immediate effect, and the next three events on the PGA Tour schedule have also been called off.

Fears over the coronavirus pandemic which has thrown worldwide sport into disarray have forced the PGA Tour to cease all tournaments up to, and including, the Valero Texas Open – the final stop before The Masters next month.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan had announced during Thursday’s first round at TPC Sawgrass that the flagship event would be played to a conclusion but with a ban on spectators for the remaining three rounds, a policy that was scheduled to continue through to Texas.

But with a number of high-profile sports suspending all activity in the United States, the Tour have now decided to follow the trend and call off The Players, The Valspar Championship, the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, and the Valero Texas Open.

The statement issued shortly after 10pm local time read: It is with regret that we are announcing the cancellation of THE PLAYERS Championship.

We have also decided to cancel all PGA TOUR events – across all of our Tours – in the coming weeks, through the Valero Texas Open.

We have pledged from the start to be responsible, thoughtful and transparent with our decision process. We did everything possible to create a safe environment for our players in order to continue the event throughout the weekend, and we were endeavoring to give our fans a much-needed respite from the current climate.

But at this point – and as the situation continues to rapidly change – the right thing to do for our players and our fans is to pause.

Monahan will be at Sawgrass early on Friday morning to issue further details and face questioning from the media. The Korn Ferry Tour, meanwhile, also announced they have suspended tournament play through to April 5.

The Players started on time on Thursday morning amid a muted atmosphere, with many fans opting to steer clear after being given the option of a full refund.

Tournament officials imposed a ban on players signing autographs before initially banning the paying public from the rest of the event, but the only tournament originally postponed was the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship.

Hideki Matsuyama fired a record-equalling nine-under 63 to claim a two-shot lead after Thursday’s first round, but his achievement will now be stricken from the archives after one of the most surreal days in golfing history.

Coronavirus – key sporting developments

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(c) Sky Sports 2020: Players Championship cancelled along with all PGA Tour events until The Masters