AUGUSTA, Ga. – The PGA Tour announced changes to all four of its biggest golf tournaments in the world as major announcements were made on Monday.
In a statement released by Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club:
“On March 13, we announced the postponement of the Masters Tournament and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur based upon the risks associated with the Coronavirus COVID-19, a pandemic that continues to impact lives everywhere.
“We remain very mindful of the extraordinary and unprecedented challenges presented by the Coronavirus around the world. As such, we continue to keep in close contact with local, state and national health authorities to help inform our decisions.
“In collaboration with the leading organizations in golf, Augusta National Golf Club has identified November 9-15 as the intended dates to host the 2020 Masters. While more details will be shared in the weeks and months to come, we, like all of you, will continue to focus on all mandated precautions and guidelines to fight against the Coronavirus. Along the way, we hope the anticipation of staging the Masters Tournament in the fall brings a moment of joy to the Augusta community and all those who love the sport.
“We want to emphasize that our future plans are incumbent upon favorable 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 to enjoy the excitement of Masters week.
“After careful consideration and following an extensive review process, we also have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Ultimately, the many scheduling challenges with NCAA tournaments, the World Amateur Team Championships, the LPGA Q-Series and other events when women’s amateur golf resumes led to this decision.
“Each player who accepted an invitation for the 2020 championship will be invited to compete in the 2021 Augusta National Women’s Amateur, provided she remains an amateur. Also, those who purchased tickets will be sent a refund in May and given the opportunity to purchase tickets for the event next year. We thank everyone for their understanding of this decision, and we look forward to the championship returning in full strength next spring.
“We know the effects of these announcements will be far-reaching. Additional information will be made available on Masters.com and ANWAgolf.com as details become known. Your patience is appreciated as we hope and plan for the 84th Masters this November.
“Thank you for your continued support and we wish you and your loved ones health and safety during these uncertain times.”
THE BRITISH OPEN
The British Open will not be played this year for the first time since 1945, with the R&A choosing to play golf’s oldest championship next year at Royal St. George’s and move the 150th Open at St. Andrews to 2022.
It was a major piece of golf trying to reconfigure a schedule brought on by the spread of the new coronavirus.
Golf organizations were expected to announced later Monday the PGA Championship moving to August, the U.S. Open going to September and the Masters to be played in November, two week before Thanksgiving.
All that depends on guidance from government and health authorities.
R&A chief Martin Slumbers said the decision to cancel the British Open was based on guidance from the U.K. government, health authorities and public services.
He said all tickets and other hospitality packages will be shifted to 2021 or fully refunded.
THE U.S. OPEN
The U.S. Open pushed back its tournament date to September to help adjust to the pandemic.
In a statement from the U.S. Open:
“Due to the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued uncertainty surrounding it, the 120th U.S. Open Championship, originally scheduled to be contested June 18-21 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., is being rescheduled to Sept. 17-20 at Winged Foot.
““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 U.S. Open this year,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA. “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 is currently evaluating how the postponement will affect exemption categories, and definitive changes will be communicated as soon as possible. As previously announced, the USGA will strive to conduct qualifying that fits health and safety guidelines while accommodating the rescheduled championship dates.”
The tournament was originally scheduled for May 14-17 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, but was one of several tournaments either postponed or canceled last month as concerns grew over the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will remain at Harding Park and will be moved to Aug. 6-9 as the golf world looks to salvage what it can from a disrupted 2020 season.
But with coronavirus cases continuing to climb across the country, questions remain about when exactly sports, including golf, might be able to return to competition. California governor Gavin Newsom expressed skepticism Saturday about whether his state could host NFL games in stadiums as planned beginning in August, which could cast doubt over the PGA of America’s ability to conduct their marquee event around the same time frame.
“Our decision on that basis here in the state of California will be determined by the facts, will be determined by the health experts, will be determined by our ability to meet this moment and bend this curve, and have the appropriate community surveillance and testing to confidently determine whether that’s appropriate,” Newsom said. “Right now, I’m just focusing on the immediate, but that (NFL games in stadiums) is not something I anticipate happening in the next few months.”
The PGA Championship was one of two majors, along with the Masters, postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak. A rescheduled date for the Masters has not yet been announced.
The U.S. Open remains scheduled for mid-June in New York, although the USGA continues to evaluate the situation, while the R&A sent out a statement last week refuting a report that The Open had been canceled, but admitted that a number of options including postponement remain on the table.
Should the PGA Championship be played this year at Harding Park, it would be the first time the event was held on the West Coast since Vijay Singh won at Sahalee in 1998.