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British Open cancelled, rest of golf major schedule reworked

(Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Golf’s Open Championship has been cancelled for the first time since World War II due to the ongoing global spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, while the US Open has been postponed to September amidst a calendar reshuffle of the remaining three majors.

Rights-holder and event organiser the R&A said today (Monday) that it had “explored every option for playing The Open this year but it is not going to be possible”.

The tournament was due to be held from July 16-19 at Royal St George’s Golf Club in Sandwich. The Kent venue will now host the 2021 championships instead.

St Andrews in Fife, Scotland was due to host next year’s major but will host the 150th Open in 2022 instead.

Tickets and hospitality packages bought for this year’s tournament will be transferred to the 2021 edition but fans are also entitled to a full refund.

Tennis’ Wimbledon championships have already been cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is also the first time since World War II that the tennis grand slam has been called off.

Martin Slumbers, the R&A chief executive, said: “There are many different considerations that go into organising a major sporting event of this scale. We rely on the support of the emergency services, local authorities and a range of other organisations to stage the Championship and it would be unreasonable to place any additional demands on them when they have far more urgent priorities to deal with.

“In recent weeks we have been working closely with those organisations as well as Royal St George’s, St Andrews Links Trust and the other golf bodies to resolve the remaining external factors and have done so as soon as we possibly could.”

The 2022 Open was originally set for Royal Liverpool in England and Royal Troon on the Ayrshire coast in Scotland was scheduled to play host in 2023.

Meanwhile, the US Open has been officially postponed from June 16-19 until September 17-20. It will still be held at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York.

The staging of the golf major in the summer was placed into doubt last month after Winged Foot Golf Club was closed indefinitely as part of an executive order issued by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has halted all non-essential businesses statewide in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

United States Golf Association chief executive Mike Davis said today: “We are hopeful that postponing the championship will offer us the opportunity to mitigate health and safety issues while still providing us with the best opportunity to conduct the US Open this year. We are incredibly thankful to the membership and staff at Winged Foot for their flexibility and support. We are also grateful for the wonderful collaboration among the professional tours and other majors in working through a complicated schedule.”

The USGA has also decided to cancel the US Senior Open and US Senior Women’s Open Championships for 2020.

Elsewhere, the PGA of America announced that the previously-postponed PGA Championship is now scheduled to take place from August 6-9 and will remain at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California, Meanwhile, Augusta National has identified November 12-15 as the intended slot to host The Masters.

The weekend rounds of the Masters, now set for the fall, will create an interesting scheduling situation for CBS if these new dates hold, as that time of year for the network is dominated by its coverage of the National Football League and college football.

In a statement, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said: “We want to emphasise that our future plans are incumbent upon favourable counsel and direction from health officials. Provided that occurs and we can conduct the 2020 Masters, we intend to invite those professionals and amateurs who would have qualified for our original April date and welcome all existing ticket holders.”

The Ryder Cup remains as originally scheduled for September 25-27 at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin. It means the US Open and Ryder Cup will be played in back-to-back weeks, assuming all events go ahead as planned.

The European Tour’s 2020 calendar was also hit today with the postponement of the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco and cancellation of the Scandinavian Mixed tournament in Stockholm. The news means that the Tour will not resume play until the end of June at the very earliest.