The Masters Rewind: How Bubba Watson claimed 2014 Augusta win

Bubba Watson experienced the most recent of his major successes at the 2014 Masters, with the final round of his victory at Augusta being repeated – in full – on Tuesday on Sky Sports Golf.

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The 2012 champion went into the final round tied for the lead with Jordan Spieth, who was looking to become the youngest Masters champion in history, with 15 players within five shots of the lead.

Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar were among those in the chasing pack, while Miguel Angel Jimenez – then aged 50 – started two strokes back in his bid to become the oldest major champion in history.

Watson went into Sunday having only turned one of his previous seven 54-hole leads on the PGA Tour into a victory, as well as knowing that the previous four Masters champions had overturned a final-day deficit to win the Green Jacket, but ended both records to claim a second Augusta victory.

A three-under 69 on the final day saw Watson end the week on eight under and three strokes clear of Jonas Blixt and Spieth, who held a two-shot lead with 11 holes to play, with Jimenez a further shot back in fourth.

Final round performances (from 15th Club)

The American’s success saw him become only the ninth player to win the Masters twice in a three-year stretch, with Watson, Phil Mickelson and Mike Weir combining to make it six Augusta victories for a left-hander in a 12-year period.

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British Open cancelled, Masters makes way

Three of the four golf majors have announced new dates for 2020 amid the coronavirus crisis while the oldest of the lot, the British Open confirmed it would cancel its event for the year.

Tiger Woods will defend his green jacket at the Masters Tournament in November at the conclusion of a radically altered schedule in light of the global pandemic.

The PGA Championship, postponed from May, will kick-off the new-look major season August 6-9 at Harding Park, San Francisco, filling a date made available by the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Ireland’s Shane Lowry will be the reigning Open champion for a second year after organisers decided to cancel the event in 2020 due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Picture: AP Photo/Peter MorrisonSource:AP

And the US Open, the last major to announce a change amid the coronavirus crisis, moves from June to September 17-20 at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York. That will also act as the tune-up event for the biennial Ryder Cup where team Europe will defend the trophy against the US at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, on unchanged dates September 25-28.

The Masters will then be the last, rather than first, major of the year November 12-15 at Augusta National Golf Club.

The revised dates for the three US-based majors were announced shortly after the 2020 Open Championship was cancelled completely.

The 149th edition of golf’s oldest major will be held at Royal St George’s in July next year, the governing R&A said.

The gates will remain locked at the entrance of Magnolia Lane that leads to the clubhouse of Augusta National due to the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

The decision was made on guidance from the UK Government, the health authorities, public services and advisers.

It is the first time since World War II that the Open, first played in 1860, has been cancelled.

“Obviously I’m disappointed that I won’t get to defend the Open Championship this year but I feel the R&A have made the right decisions based on people’s health and safety,” titleholder Shane Lowry tweeted.

There has been an immediate knock-on effect to the Open rota with the 150th Championship now being held at the St Andrews Old Course in 2022 rather than 2021.

“Our absolute priority is to protect the health and safety of the fans, players, officials, volunteers and staff involved in The Open,” said R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers.

The cancellation of the Open follows that of Wimbledon.

Only the Formula One British Grand Prix remains in place on the British sporting calendar for the summer, on July 19, with a decision on whether it can take place expected by the end of the month.

And football across the United Kingdom is suspended until at least May with debate ongoing about whether it is possible to conclude the current season.

Originally published asBritish Open cancelled, Masters makes way

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The Open is off for first time since 1945 amid coronavirus pandemic

The Open is off for first time since 1945… but there is still hope that the Ryder Cup and the Masters won’t be derailed by coronavirus chaos

  • The Open Championship will not be staged this year for the first time since 1945 
  • Revised dates have been agreed for the other three majors to take place 
  • The US PGA Championship is set for August, with the US Open in September
  • Meanwhile, the Masters is scheduled to be staged from November 12-15 

The Open will not be staged this year for the first time since 1945, after the R&A took the momentous decision to cancel the championship set for Royal St George’s in July.

There is still the hope, however, that the other three majors, plus the Ryder Cup, will take place after revised dates were confirmed.  

The US PGA Championship has been scheduled for August 6-9, the US Open moving to September 17-20 — the week before the Ryder Cup — and the Masters will be staged from November 12-15.

The Open Championship will not be staged this year for the first time since 1945

Like Wimbledon, another pillar of the British sporting summer has been ripped from the schedule owing to the effects of coronavirus.

The 149th Open will now take place at the Kent course in July next year, with the 150th Open at St Andrews moving to 2022. 

‘We care deeply about this historic championship and have made this decision with a heavy heart,’ said R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers. 

‘I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing the Open this year, but it is not going to be possible.’

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said he ‘explored every option’ to host the tournament

One option considered was a postponement to the date now occupied by the US Open, with that event moving to October. Even then, the chances of holding an Open on a fit- ting scale would still have been subject to considerable doubt.

Fortified by a similar insurance policy to Wimbledon’s, covering the main costs of such a cancellation, the R&A decided the risk was too great.

Tickets and hospitality packages for this year’s event will be transferred to 2021. Those no longer able to attend will receive a full refund. 

‘We appreciate that this will be disappointing for a great many people around the world but this pandemic is severely affecting the UK and we have to act responsibly,’ said Slumbers.

‘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 and it would be unreasonable to place any additional demands on them when they have far more urgent priorities.’

2019 runner-up Tommy Fleetwood said it was ‘a sad day’ when the event was cancelled

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, runner-up to Shane Lowry in last year’s event, told Sky Sports: ‘It’s obviously a sad day considering what the Open means to so many people, including me.’

Given the US PGA and the US Open are taking place in California and New York, two of the American states worst affected by coronavirus, there is no guarantee they will still go ahead. Even Masters chairman Fred Ridley sounded a note of caution over their November date. 

‘We hope the anticipation of staging the Masters in the fall brings a moment of joy but we want to emphasise our plans are incumbent upon favourable counsel from health officials,’ he said.

The revised schedule is a bleak one for the European Tour. The flagship BMW PGA Championship set for Wentworth from September 10-13 is supposed to be the final event of Ryder Cup qualifying, and appeared sure to attract a stellar field. 

But how many of the stars would consider that date now, with the FedEx Cup play-offs, spread over three weeks in America, on one side and the US Open and Ryder Cup on the other?

The Masters has also been rescheduled in the middle of the three lucrative events to end the year — complete with £20million prize money. Clearly, chief executive Keith Pelley has some big decisions to make.

Podcast of the week

McKellar Golf: Padraig Harrington interview 

Over the past 30 years, European golf has been hugely blessed to have had not only some wonderful golfers but brilliant talkers as well. 

This year’s Ryder Cup captainPadraig Harrington is a case in point, and here the Irishman is on mesmerising form, in an interview the length of a football match that, above all, showcases his enduring passion for the game.

The golf instruction stuff at the start is for nerds only but thereafter the nuggets come at a steady pace, as the interviewers, Lawrence Donegan and John Huggan, skilfully guide him through his illustrious career. 

There is a typically insightful Harrington take on why Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson could not play together at the Ryder Cup, and why Colin Montgomerie was a world-beater in Europe but never won on the PGA Tour.

There is humour too, as Harrington shares some colourful stories he has enjoyed along the way.




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PGA of America forced to cancel Senior PGA Championship

The KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship has become the first senior major to be cancelled outright for 2020.

The PGA of America announced the tournament, which was scheduled for May 21-24 at the Harbor Shores Resort in Michigan, will not be played this year.

The state of Michigan authorities issued an indefinite stay-at-home order on March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic, a policy which influenced the decision to cancel the Senior PGA.

“While we are incredibly disappointed, we all understand that protecting public health is the highest priority,” said PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh. “We are especially disappointed for the Benton Harbor community, our friends at KitchenAid and the fans and volunteers who support this important championship so passionately.”

A spokesman for the title sponsors added: “This was not an easy decision. This championship means so much to our KitchenAid brand and the Southwest Michigan community, however the health and safety of our community is our priority.

“We thank our corporate and hospitality partners and our 1,600 volunteers for their continued support of the Championship.

“The contestants have become a welcomed extension of our community over the years and while we are incredibly disappointed that the Championship will not return to Benton Harbor in 2020, we know that this is the right thing to do.”

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Jon Rahm offers support and guidance during coronavirus crisis

With the sporting world in shutdown due to the coronavirus crisis, Jon Rahm sat down with the PGA Tour editorial team to reflect on the life lessons he has learned from golf and offer a message for young people during this difficult period.

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This is not the time to be selfish. It’s very easy to think that you’re young and that nothing’s going to happen to you if you catch the virus. We have to think about society, everyone we have next to us. You may have no symptoms and yet still transmit the virus. And you don’t know how far it can go and who can get affected.

This comes from someone who arrived as a young age into the world of professional golf and had to learn quickly from his mistakes. There have been moments that were not my best, low moments when I had to take several steps back and regroup. I’ve been learning and I’ve been climbing to where I am now.

There are ups and downs all the time. I started from a very young age with the aim of being number one in the world and being among the best. There are times when you have no doubt and there are times when you think you are not going to get anywhere near it. It is what it is. You have to keep fighting and maintain your confidence.

Gradually you get used to the magnitude that everything we do can have a great positive or negative effect. It is for you to adapt and learn that you have a great platform to help people. And also know that there are many children who consider you their favourite player and that you can and should pass on good values to them.

For starters, win or lose, always do it with humility. You’re never going to see me end up angry after losing a tournament. The winner has played better than you and deserves it, that’s the first thing. In golf there is also a lot of integrity, ultimately, every time you do something wrong in golf, you apply penalties to yourself.

You also learn that, as with anything in life, there is a long process in which you have to work hard. You have to follow that process to improve as a person and at whatever you want to do. It’s not a consistent ascent. There are good times, bad times, very bad times and very good times. With experience and work, the good ones become even better, and the bad ones less bad.

Around a year ago, I had one of those less bad moments when I finished tied ninth in my third Masters. On two Sundays at Augusta, I’ve been kind of close to the lead, but not that close. Hopefully, the next time I will play well for three days, so on Sunday, I will have more options to win the tournament… and serve a good T-bone steak at the champions dinner, as did Ballesteros and Olazabal.

There was also one of those even better moments around this time last year, when I won the Zurich Classic in New Orleans along with Ryan Palmer. Ryan and I get along very well and there’s great chemistry. Our game is similar, we like to hit mostly fades and it was a week in which we both played very well.

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Paul McGinley on an arduous, but realistic road to recovery for golf

What are the main challenges facing golf when sport is given the all-clear to return after the coronavirus pandemic? Paul McGinley predicts a long and uncertain road ahead, but one which should end positively.

Like many other sports, the world of golf, both professional and amateur, has come to a halt. The world is reeling on the ropes from a virus that is affecting us all and that has brought such devastation. Our health workers have become true heroes.

When we come through this lockdown stage, the economic ramifications are likely to bring hardship and suffering for years to come. According to the experts we need to be ready for this as it’s coming our way fast. The post-corona fallout will have consequences to all our daily lives and businesses as well as to all sports.

As we face this long and uncertain road ahead, many will look forward to the return of sport. For golf to return, it will, first and foremost, require assurances from various governments and the international community that it is safe and right to do so.

Realistically, we will now need to get our heads around the idea that, as we try to go back to what we used to call normality, a first port of call will more than likely, and certainly initially, be that professional sport is played behind closed doors.

There are so many questions to which we, as yet, have no answers. When we begin to return to the streets, what socially-acceptable behaviours will people follow? As we have become accustomed to social distancing and avoidance of crowds, how will we adjust to shoulder-to-shoulder contact with strangers?

How soon before international travel restrictions are lifted to certain countries? Will some countries insist on a period of quarantine initially before returning to an open-border policy? What ramifications to these social changes will there be for sport with closely packed crowds and, in particular, our game of golf?

The professional golf landscape will surely be a different place. It is commonly agreed that the economic fallout will be colossal and there is no doubt that sport will have suffered as a consequence. This in itself will filter right down the golf food chain to local courses and driving ranges.

As the world gets back on its feet again, I foresee economic and social corrections as we adapt to different living standards. All professional sport will adjust on so many levels as sport recalculates to a different value system.

With regards to the new golf end-of-year schedule, I note a lot of comment and the raising of potential scenarios that are now being discussed. I’m aware that just as in all businesses a lot of talks are being escalated and conducted behind the scenes in respect of what the future might look like.

As this virus is so fast-moving and with no likely short-term end in sight, that is all they are at the moment – talks and discussions. We are told that no fixed plans can be put in place until a proven means of testing or vaccination is available to all.

From my new position of being now more involved at board level on the European Tour and Ryder Cup, I have access to many of these high-level conversations. I can assure you that, in order to get some kind of clarity and joined-up thinking on resumption, all the main major bodies in men’s and ladies’ world golf are communicating.

The European Tour, PGA Tour, PGA of America, USGA, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour, Augusta National and the R&A are all working very closely trying to piece together end of year schedule scenarios.

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Ewen Murray: Was it the right call to shut down golf in the UK?

After golfing authorities in the UK ordered the closure of all courses, Ewen Murray gives his verdict on a difficult decision in difficult times …

Last weekend, I was walking my dog, Islay, along the public footpath which meanders its way through a corner of The West Sussex golf course. The course was understandably quiet given the world we are currently living in, yet there were some golfers playing.

One elderly couple, who I found out had been members for many years, were two of these golfers. I smiled to myself thinking they made a lovely picture walking up the fairway. These difficult times, two seniors enjoying the fresh air and exercise which can only be good for physical and mental health.

Following on from the Prime Minister’s statement tonight (23 March), golf clubs, courses and facilities in England must now close.

Read the full statement here: https://t.co/nNdk20LhdW pic.twitter.com/eQg0BWlKG1

At that time, golf was pretty much as we knew it. Play, yes, but stay true to the recommendations laid down by the government. This couple did that.

One trolley was left on the left side of the tee, the other on the right. As they walked the fairways, they remained five yards apart, yet they would be going home in the same car to their house. In short, they were doing as they have been told.

The day after came the news that no golf would be allowed across the country due to the coronavirus outbreak. I thought of that couple along with the other golfers in the British Isles. Was it the correct call to halt this hobby and pastime?

In three words, you have the answer. Broadcasted to the nation by our Prime Minister, the message was short and simple: “Stay at Home”. To go on playing after that speech would be wrong, yet I couldn’t help thinking, the elderly, those at most risk, would surely benefit from a few holes now and again in the fresh spring air the country has enjoyed recently.

Then I thought of the brilliant NHS staff and their dedication to their profession, their unswerving will to help everyone they come in contact with, without any thought or regard for their own safety or well-being. The hours they have put in, not just in recent times and the hours they will work in the weeks/months ahead.

During the next two weeks, we would normally have been wishing the hours away so we could watch the annual spectacle from Augusta National, the tournament that heralds the start of the season for many golfers.

There will be no azaleas this spring, no PGA Championship, and the US Open and the 149th Open Championship are looking more like hope rather than reality. This is, understandably, somewhat depressing for golf fans all over the world.

But out of every dark tunnel comes light, so let’s ignore the golfing negatives of the present, focus on the positive, get through this and look to the future. When the world is healthy again, we have much to look forward to.

The golf courses across the world are getting a rest, something they haven’t had in a long while. Maintenance can be carried out by the green staff uninterrupted by golfers. With the advances in agronomy along with the talent of highly skilled green-keepers we are fortunate to have, when we do return to the fairways, your course will be a pretty picture. Augusta like.

This morning I talked to Kerr Rowan, the head green-keeper at West Sussex. Despite the closure of courses, the green staff can carry out essential maintenance. This includes green cutting twice a week, fairways and aprons once and rough once a fortnight. With no traffic, paths and walkways get a rest and time to recover, much-used areas around the tees and greens the same.

I know it’s frustrating for golf to be redundant, but this is something we haven’t endured in years gone by and we hope we never see the likes of it again. But do dream of the time when the light goes from red to green with the majors back, along with all of the other tournaments and championships you look forward to.

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Matt Fitzpatrick podcast: PGA Tour pace of play ‘slow as ever’

Matt Fitzpatrick believes not enough is being done to combat slow play in golf and feels no progress has been made to solve the problem on the PGA Tour.

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Fitzpatrick has previously spoken out about slow play and called for tougher penalties to be issued when speaking to Sky Sports last September, with the Englishman unconvinced that any progress has been made in recent months.

The PGA Tour announced “major enhancements” to its regulations in January to try and improve the situation, which were due to be introduced from next month following a three-month education period for the players.

Fitzpatrick was unable to complete his opening round at The Players earlier this month – which was later cancelled – before play was suspended due to darkness, with the five-time European Tour player far from impressed with the slow play situation.

“In all seriousness, in Europe I’ve seen it definitely (improve) this year,” Fitzpatrick told the Sky Sports Golf podcast. “On the PGA Tour it’s just as slow as ever. It’s shocking, it really is dreadful.

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“We teed off at 2.35pm at The Players and there was another group behind us and there was no chance (of getting done). I should’ve stopped earlier because I had a 60-footer and I should’ve stopped then, so at least 10 minutes before.

“It should never get to that stage. It’s threeballs and you should be easily round. For me, the US officials – and my caddie Billy Foster is of the same agreement – they’re not as pushy as the European officials, they’re not ‘on it’ as much.

“I don’t know if these slow players are just really selfish and not very nice people, but if someone came up to me and said ‘listen, you’re going to be penalised if you don’t speed up’ then I’m going to speed up, it’s as simple as that.”

Fitzpatrick went on to give an example of a particularly bad culprit during The Open at Royal Portrush, who could easily be identified as Andrew Putnam, with the Englishman far from impressed that the player wasn’t punished for his pace of play.

“I think they (slow players) are oblivious and are just in their own little world,” Fitzpatrick added. “I played with someone in The Open last year with Padraig Harrington and we were both pulling our hair out, because it was just embarrassing.

“Every group at The Open has a walking referee and I said to him ‘I’ve just timed him there and it’s taken one minute 30’ and he just nodded his head and said ‘he has averaged one minute 15 all day’.

“I was thinking to myself, ‘if he’s averaging 1minute 15 then why is nobody penalising him’?! It was driving me insane, it was ridiculous. It was just selfish that this player in particular didn’t start getting ready until it was his turn. You’ve got all this time. You can figure it out, it’s really not hard!”

Ryder Cup Golf

March 29, 2020, 11:00am

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As well as talking about slow play, Fitzpatrick shared details of how he was dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and gave his thoughts about Sheffield United’s remarkable Premier League season.

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McIlroy challenges fellow pros to take him on at cycling challenge

On yer bike, boys! Super-fit Rory McIlroy has challenged fellow golfers to take him on in Peloton cycling as world No 1 keeps fit during the coronavirus pandemic

  • Rory McIlroy has issued a cycling challenge to his fellow pros while in lockdown
  • The Northern Irishman admits he’s always found cardio-vascular training a chore
  • However he now enjoys Peloton – a spin bike which connects you to others online
  • McIlroy was doing two or three Peloton rides a week while he was playing golf 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

If you were wondering why Rory McIlroy is sporting a leaner look these days, a memorable video posted on social media on Tuesday rather gave the game away.

Curly locks flying in all directions, and absolutely drenched in sweat, the game’s No 1 player had just enough breath left to issue a challenge to his peers to take him on at another pursuit while golf is in lockdown: the Peloton.

At the recent Players Championship, McIlroy admitted that although running had been part of his fitness routine, he had always found cardio-vascular training a chore.

Rory McIlroy has issued a Peloton cycling challenge to his fellow pros while in lockdown

That all changed when he invested in the pricey, high-tech exercise bike with its own video screen that allows enthusiasts to go online and monitor their progress against other like-minded souls from all across the world.

‘I like the fact it makes me earn my dinners and keeps me in shape,’ said the 30-year-old. ‘Cardio was always a problem for me, I never really liked it, but since getting the Peloton and joining that whole community, I’ve really started enjoying it.

‘I like the leaderboard aspect, the fact it is competitive in some ways, and you’re always trying to beat your last score.’

As you can imagine, he is pretty good already. Very good, in fact. Poor old American Billy Horschel thought he had posted a decent target during his 45-minute ride, averaging 23.9mph during his 19.92 miles, and burning almost 1,100 calories.

He sent out a challenge to beat his power output of 752 kilojoules and in running parlance, McIlroy lapped him. 

The Northern Irishman is regularly training at home to keep his cardiovascular fitness levels up

Calling out other PGA Tour enthusiasts after his ride, the Northern Irishman, with a broad grin, said on his Instagram account: ‘Billy, JT (Justin Thomas), Charley (Hoffman) and everyone else who wants to do this Peloton thing while we’re in quarantine or social isolation or whatever you want to call it, I beat you again.  

‘The target was 800kj and I just got there. Sixty-ninth on the leaderboard out of nearly 11,500 people.

‘Grinded on this one and yeah… bring it boys.’

McIlroy was doing two or three Peloton rides a week while he was playing golf.

During the next nine weeks — at the very least — without golf, you can be sure he will step that up to fill his competitive need.

With players keen to keep in contact with their fans through social media, it will be interesting to see who takes up his Peloton challenge.

Right now, McIlroy is the man to beat. No change there, then.

HOW CORONAVIRUS HAS HIT THE WORLD OF SPORT SO FAR

2020 OLYMPIC GAMES  

The 2020 Olympic Games has been postponed until 2021 on March 24 – becoming one of the last major sporting events this summer to fall victim to the coronavirus.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe held a crucial conference call with Olympics chief Thomas Bach on Tuesday to formally decide a plan and they have chosen to postpone for 12 months.

The decision also means the Tokyo Paralympic Games will be subject to a one-year delay.

Despite the delay, the name of the delayed Games will still be Tokyo 2020, the city’s governor Yuriko Koike revealed.

A joint statement from the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organising committee read: ‘In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

‘The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. 

‘Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.’ 

There was plenty of scepticism whether the Olympics would pull through and continue as scheduled while events linked to the games were called off. The Olympic torch relay in Greece was cancelled on Friday March 13 – just a day after the flame was lit in Olympia.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed by one year due to the coronavirus

Large crowds mobbed Hollywood actor Gerard Butler as he lit the cauldron in the Greek city of Sparta despite repeated warnings for spectators not to attend because of coronavirus.

That forced the decision by the Greek Olympic Committee to halt the torch relay on Greek soil on just the second day of its scheduled eight-day journey. It is the only the third time that a relay to Athens for the summer Games has not been completed.

The Olympic flame will still be handed over to the Tokyo 2020 organising committee at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Thursday March 19, but without fans present. 

Athletes were told to keep training but many struggled considering the government lock-down measures put in place. 

On Friday March 13 US president Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister.

‘The IOC and the organising committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement – absolutely not at all,’ Seiko Hashimoto, an Olympic bronze medalist, told a news conference in Tokyo.

On Tuesday March 17, Kozo Tashima, one of the Japanese Olympic Committee’s vice presidents and president of the Japanese Football Association, tested positive for coronavirus.  

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers have stayed on message since the viral outbreak in China three months ago spread across Asia and then the globe: The games will open as scheduled on July 24. 

Tokyo 2020 organisers received the Olympic flame in a scaled-down handover ceremony in the Greek capital on March 19. 

ATHLETICS 

The World Athletics Indoor Championships, which was due to be held from March 13-15 in Nanjing, is postponed until March 2021.

The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, has been postponed due to concerns over the danger of the coronavirus and its ability to spread

North Korea cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April after imposing a border lockdown due to the level of outbreak in South Korea, where the Seoul Marathon is cancelled in a bid to protect runners.

The Paris half-marathon is cancelled and the French government also decided to ban all public gatherings of more than 100 people, before ordering people to stay at home from March 15 for at least 15 days. The race involving some 44,000 competitors was scheduled for Sunday March 1. Organisers said the race will be postponed to a date yet to be determined.

The London Marathon, which had been scheduled to take place on April 26, has been postponed until October 4. Over 40,000 runners were due to take part. 

The Barcelona marathon scheduled for March 15 has been postponed until October.

BOXING 

Olympic boxing qualifiers to be staged in Wuhan were cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, but went ahead in Amman from March 3-11.

The IBF title fight between Daniele Scardina and Andrew Francillette in Milan on February 28 was postponed by Matchroom due to restrictions in Italy following the outbreak.

The Japanese boxing commission cancelled all fight cards scheduled for March on government advice to suspend all pending sporting fixtures. They will not be rescheduled.

Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce’s Battle of Britain has been pushed back from April to July

The British Boxing Board of Control announced on Tuesday March 17 that all boxing events under their jurisdiction for March will be postponed due to the coronavirus.

That decision has lead to the heavyweight clash between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce being postponed. That fight, which had been penciled in for April 11, has been rescheduled for July 11 at the O2 Arena. 

Matchroom Boxing has also postponed all events scheduled for March and April, including Josh Kelly’s European title fight against Russia’s David Avanesyan (scheduled for March 28). 

The European Olympic boxing qualification tournament in London has been suspended. It was due to secure qualification for Tokyo 2020 for 77 male and female boxers, with 322 taking part. 

Matchroom Boxing chief Eddie Hearn has said Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev, which is scheduled for June 20, could be rearranged for July. All Matchroom promoted fights in March and April have been postponed. 

Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders, earmarked for May in Las Vegas, was postponed before even being announced, however the Mexican is reportedly still planning to make the bout happen in June. 

CRICKET 

England’s tour of Sri Lanka was postponed on March 13, with the England and Wales Cricket Board citing ‘completely unprecedented times’.

The decision was confirmed while Joe Root’s side were in the field at Colombo’s P Sara Oval, contesting a warm-up game for a two-Test series.

On March 18, the West Indies offered to host England’s upcoming home Tests against them in the Caribbean instead of in the UK – should the coronavirus outbreak not have improved by then. England are due to face the Windies in a a three-Test series, which is due to start at the Oval on June 4 but could be delayed until September. If playing the series in England proves unworkable, CWI have offered to step in for this series, and also for England’s three Tests against Pakistan, due to start on July 30. Although there are Covid-19 cases in the Caribbean, its impact there has been limited so far. 

The start of the Indian Premier League season has also been delayed until April 15. The 2020 campaign had been set to start on March 29. The IPL franchises are also ready to quarantine their foreign players for a period of 14 days, if travel restrictions are lifted to allow them to arrive.

On March 13, India’s ongoing one-day international series against South Africa was postponed, while Australia’s one-day internationals against New Zealand will be played behind closed doors.

Scotland’s one-day series against the United States and UAE have been postponed. The games were scheduled to be played in Florida in April. 

England’s cricketers would not play any rescheduled Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean until December at the earliest, it emerged on March 19.

CYCLING 

Cycling’s Giro d’Italia has been called off, with the race scheduled to start in Hungary in May. 

The final two stages of the UAE Tour were cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease. 

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov was tested for coronavirus after being put in isolation

The Tour de France is under threat of cancellation, with the scheduled start in Nice taking place in just over three months, on June 27. With British and French governments anticipating that the pandemic will last until the summer, race organizers are studying alternative scheduling. 

The Paris-Roubaix cycling race, another major event on the French sports calendar, was postponed due to the pandemic, while the April 5 Tour of Flanders, only previously cancelled during World War I, was also postponed in a further sign that Le Tour is under grave threat.

FOOTBALL 

This summer’s Euro 2020 tournament has been moved to next summer (2021) following a UEFA conference held on March 17. The postponement provides a chance for European club competitions to be completed.

All football in England is suspended until at least April 30 – but the 2019-20 season should eventually be completed after the FA bend their own rules to extend the campaign INDEFINITELY after holding crisis talks on March 19.

The decisions to suspend follows players and staff becoming affected by the virus, or individuals self-isolating as a precaution after reporting symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

The Premier League has moved to cancel games following the global outbreak of coronavius

The Premier League clash between Manchester City and Arsenal, scheduled for March 11, had already been postponed as a ‘precautionary measure’ after Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus weeks after watching his Greek team play at the Emirates Stadium. 

On March 13, UEFA announced all Champions League and Europa League fixtures scheduled are postponed, as well as the quarter-final draws for both competitions. UEFA hope to conclude the competitions in the summer but no dates are yet set. 

All Chinese domestic fixtures at all levels were postponed and the season pushed back, the first football to be affected by the outbreak in the country of its origin. However, reports suggest that the league could resume on April 18 as China gets to grip with the virus.

Asian Champions League matches involving Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG are postponed until April.

The start of the Korean K-League season is postponed. The four teams in the AFC Champions League are playing their matches behind closed doors.

Japan’s J-League postponed all domestic games until the middle of March, but further delays are inevitable. 

Ludogorets players were taking no chances after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy

Italy, the country worst hit by the virus outside China, suffered a spate of cancellations before the government put the population on lockdown. All sport, including Serie A games, were suspended until at least April 3 to contain the virus.

In France, it was announced on Friday 13 March that there will be no top-flight football in France for the immediate future after their governing body postponed all matches.  

In Spain, April 18’s Copa del Rey final between between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad has been postponed. LaLiga is also postponed until the end of March at least.

Germany’s Bundesliga, the other major European league, is also suspended until April 3 at least. 

The Dutch Eredivisie and Portugal’s Primeira Liga are also suspended.

The Football Association of Ireland announced that all football under its jurisdiction will cease until March 29. 

Major League Soccer has been suspended for 30 days until mid-April with David Beckham’s first Inter Miami home game delayed.  

The South American Football Confederation postponed this year’s Copa America, due to take place from 12 June to 12 July, until 2021.

FIFA said that the newly-expanded Club World Cup, originally scheduled to take place in China in June 2021, will be postponed and a new date announced when ‘there is more clarity on the situation’.

On March 13, the FA announced that all of England’s games scheduled for the month would be postponed, including those of development teams. It means that England’s friendlies with Italy and Denmark have been called off.    

Euro 2020 play-off matches due to be held on March 26, including Scotland v Israel have been put off until June. 

Olympiakos’ owner Evangelos Marinakis has tested positive for the coronavirus

Manchester United clash at Austrian side Lask was behind closed doors, with United handing out £350 to each fan to help with travel and accommodation after they sold 900 tickets for the Europa League game. 

Newcastle United banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid coronavirus fears. 

Cristiano Ronaldo went into isolation in Madeira after it emerged that his Juventus team-mate, Daniele Rugani, has coronavirus. Squad members Blaise Matuidi and Paolo Dybala also tested positive. 

Elsewhere in Italy, Fiorentina striker Patrick Cutrone, who is on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, tested positive for coronavirus.

In Spain, 35% of Valencia’s squad staff tested positive for coronavirus, with all cases being asymptomatic. 

Real Madrid’s first-team squad were in quarantine after a member of the basketball team tested positive for Covid-19. The two teams share the same training facility.   

Liverpool have announced a charity match between a Reds Legends side and Barcelona Legends, due to be played at Anfield on March 28, has been postponed.

FIFA says it will postpone South American World Cup qualifying matches due to take place in March. 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on March 12 with the entire first-team squad being put into isolation. The Gunners’ game against Brighton, scheduled for Saturday March 14, has been postponed.

In the early hours of Friday, March 13, Chelsea announced that winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had been diagnosed with the illness.

The club’s first team went into self-isolation, while two buildings at their training ground in Cobham were closed. 

Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Manchester City, have sent players home to train alone following the British government’s increasing crackdown on mass gatherings and unnecessary social contact.   

West Ham chief Karren Brady called for the season to be null and void while Aston Villa believe no team should be relegated. In this situation Liverpool, the runaway league leaders, could face the horror of being denied the title despite being on the brink of securing their first league trophy in nearly 30 years.

Reports suggest football bodies across England and the rest of Europe are bracing themselves for a reported total shutdown of every league until September.

Top-level English and Scottish football was initially suspended until April 3 at the earliest. The Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship all agreed to call a halt to competitive action with immediate effect. 

FORMULA ONE 

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix was called off after a McLaren team member came down with Covid-19, leading to the British team pulling out prior to a decision being made on whether the race would still go ahead. 

The announcement came hours after Lewis Hamilton said it was ‘shocking’ that the race was going ahead. 

The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 was the first race to be postponed, with no decision over whether it will be reinserted into the 2020 calendar for later in the season. 

The Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for March 20-22, is also called off, as is the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place in Hanoi on April 5. 

It was hoped that the Dutch Grand Prix on May 3 would be the first race of the new season but that has also been postponed due to Covid-19. 

The iconic Monaco Grand Prix on May 24 was cancelled for the first time in 66 years before Formula One announced their race in Azerbaijan had been postponed. 

The Chinese GP was first to be cancelled and other races could yet follow that lead

GOLF 

On March 13, the Masters was postponed. In a statement released online, Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, emphasised that the decision makers hope to hold the championship ‘at some later date’. The first men’s major of the year was due to begin on April 9.

The US PGA Championship, the second major of the year, has now joined the  Masters in being postponed. It had been due to take place at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco from May 11-17, but has been rescheduled for later this summer.

After deciding to play with no spectators from the second round of the Players Championship onwards, the PGA Tour cancelled the event entirely after the first round on March 12. 

They also scrapped the following three events leading up to the Masters, but after that was cancelled four further events in April and May – the RBC Heritage, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Wells Fargo Championship and the AT&T Byron Nelson – also bit the dust. It is hoped that the season can be resumed in late May.

The European Tour have cancelled all tournaments until the popular Made in Denmark event on May 21. Many of them were due to be held in China or east Asia in countries badly hit by the outbreak.

The women’s game has also been hit by postponements and cancellations, with the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration, the highest profile casualty.

The Masters has been postponed for the first time since the Second World War

Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari were withdrawn from the Oman Open on medical grounds after Gagli showed symptoms of the virus. He shared a hotel room with Molinari and he was told to self-isolate. They were later reinstated to the tournament after testing negative for the virus. 

HORSE RACING 

The Grand National was called off following new British government restrictions to fight the spread of coronavirus made it impossible to stage the Aintree showpiece on April 4. The Cheltenham Festival went ahead amid some criticism before the social distancing measures were tightened. 

The Japan Racing Association revealed that ‘government-sanctioned races’ will go ahead behind closed doors.  

Racing in Ireland is to take place behind closed doors starting until March 29.  

The Dubai World Cup meeting will go ahead on March 28 ‘without paid hospitality spectators’. 

The Cheltenham Festival went ahead despite travel disruption caused by the virus

RUGBY 

This year’s Six Nations will have to wait for its conclusion with all remaining games postponed.

England’s game with Italy and Ireland’s trip to France had already been called off with Wales and Scotland leaving it until the day before before calling off their game. 

Saturday, 31 October is a possible date for the final weekend of matches. 

The Women’s Six Nations has also been hit by postponements.

Ireland’s Six Nations encounter with Italy on March 7 has been postponed

The RFU has suspended all levels of rugby in England until April 14, with the announcement coming shortly after the Premiership was halted for five weeks. 

The quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have also been postponed. Those games were scheduled for April 3, 4 and 5.   

The RFL and rugby league’s Super League have now followed suit and postponed all fixtures for at least three weeks. Eight Leeds Rhinos players had been confirmed to be self-isolating.  

TENNIS

The French Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, is postponed until September amid a wide lockdown in France.

The clay-court major was scheduled for May 24 to June 7, but that has shifted to September 20 to October 4, after the US Open, which was due to be the final major of the year. 

Players have been quick to criticise the move, which has created a conflict with the Laver Cup men’s team event spearheaded by Roger Federer, and a women’s tournament in China.

All events on the ATP Tour have been suspended for six weeks. 

The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California, set to start on March 9, was postponed at the eleventh hour.  It came after a confirmed case of the coronavirus in the nearby Coachella Valley.

The final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, between Enzo Couacaud and Illya Marchenko of Ukraine was cancelled. Both players received ranking points and prize money for getting to the final. They were denied the opportunity to play behind closed doors.

China forfeited a Davis Cup tie because the men’s team were unable to travel to Romania for the March 6-7 play-off.

WTA events have also been cancelled. The WTA announced they are assessing their schedule with a number of events set for China in the second half of the season.

The International Tennis Federation has announced that the Fed Cup finals have been postponed. The event was due to be held in Budapest in April and the competition’s play-offs, which were set to take place in eight different locations, have also been placed on hold.

The WTA also announced no tournaments will be staged for at least five weeks.   

OTHER SPORTS 

The NBA has been suspended indefinitely after two Utah Jazz players contracted the virus. On March 17 Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant confirmed he had tested positive for the virus alongside three unnamed team-mates.

In an aid to decrease risks of exposure to the virus, the NBA had told players to avoid taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers. 

The NHL has announced it has paused the 2019-20 season with no date confirmed for when it will resume. 

The UFC has cancelled its next three events, although president Dana White is still pushing ahead for the highly-anticipated lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. 

MotoGP have cancelled their first two races of the season in Qatar and Thailand. 

South Korea’s baseball league cancelled all 50 pre-season game which were slated to take place from March 14-24. It is the first time since the leagues inception in 1982 that an entire set of exhibition matches are off. 

The first-stage draw for the Table Tennis World Championships, scheduled for South Korea from March 22-29, is postponed.

A beach volleyball tournament, due to be held in Yangzhou from April 22-26, is postponed until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

World Short track speed skating championship in Seoul is cancelled.

The World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi was postponed as a precautionary measure.  

The Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships in Canada have been cancelled.   

All 72 pre-season baseball games in Japan are to take place behind closed doors

In badminton, the German Open (March 3-8), Vietnam Open (March 24-29) and Polish Open (March 26-29), all Olympic qualifying events, are cancelled due to ‘strict health protection’. 

The Japanese professional baseball league made the decision to play their 72 pre-season games behind closed doors until March 15. Baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan.  

Doubts remain as the Asian weightlifting championships, scheduled for March, are relocated from Kazakhstan to neighbouring Uzbekistan. They could still be postponed. 





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Stage the Ryder Cup to raise morale… with a little tickle to the rules

The show must go on: Think big and stage the Ryder Cup to raise morale… (with a little tickle to the rules)

  • There is a feeling in some quarters that the Ryder Cup should be postponed
  • But imagine the role the contest could play in raising morale later this year
  • The two captains should have the freedom to pick their teams in their entirety 

The Euros have been kicked down the road and the Olympics will assuredly follow suit. 

No wonder there is a doom-laden feeling in some quarters that the Ryder Cup should be postponed for 12 months as well, and we write this off as the lost year of sport. 

After all, might it not free up some space to cram in a rearranged major or two? 

Ian Poulter and Tommy Fleetwood celebrate victory at the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris

Thankfully, those in charge are not currently thinking along those lines at all. It’s time to think big not small, and how the Ryder Cup draws in millions of sports and non-sports lovers alike, who don’t normally watch golf. 

By late September — if we’re all, please God, up and running again by then — imagine the role the biennial contest could play in raising morale, and particularly with the loss of the other two major sporting events? 

Rather than run for cover, it’s the sport’s duty and responsibility to stage the Ryder Cup if at all possible. What about the qualifying process, with so many tournaments lost? Sure, it’s going to need a rethink — but it’s hardly rocket science. 

The easiest solution would be to scrap automatic qualifying and give the two captains the freedom to pick their teams in their entirety, which would certainly create plenty of debate. But, given the qualifying process had proceeded smoothly for six months without interruption, it would hardly be the fairest solution. 

Europe captain Thomas Bjorn kisses the trophy after winning the 2018 Ryder Cup

With hopefully at least a month’s golf before the autumn showpiece, including two or three majors, there would be time for those who have done little to this point to show some form. There’s one change that should be made. 

Europe’s Padraig Harrington gave up one of his captain’s wild cards because he believed in the integrity of the 12-month qualifying period. 

Now it has been compromised, he should have four picks instead of three. Worrying about the whys and wherefores of qualifying, though, ought to be secondary. 

Last week, Gary Neville called for a festival of football when the time was right, and if players had to play every day, then so be it. That should be golf’s attitude, too. N

ever mind worrying about staging majors either side of the Ryder Cup and fretting about overkill. If we’re in a blessed place by then where it’s safe to play and watch sport, we’ll be desperate to celebrate and revel in the fact. 

With the Olympics about to be postponed, let’s not forget the biggest event of all that can now take place this year is the Ryder Cup. Time to put on a show, if we possibly can.

Pretty handy either way!

When Vijay Singh was in his prime, he walked up to me on the practice ground — I was hitting some shots before a pro-am — took a club from my bag and proceeded to hit a three iron I couldn’t have matched if I’d stayed there all day. 

Nothing surprising in that, you might think, but for the fact that I’m left handed and was playing off a handicap of three. 

I thought of that moment last week when watching Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson show off their astounding prowess playing with left-handed clubs on social media. 

Vijay Singh (above) has shown he can play the game both right-handed and left-handed

If you’ve ever played the other way round from your conventional style, you’ll know how impossible it is standing on what feels like the wrong side of the ball. The bash brothers, meanwhile, looked like they could take their left handed games on tour. 

The TrackMan measuring device showed Koepka was hitting eight irons 190 yards, and Johnson blasted a left-handed drive over 300 yards. 

The way they play the game right-handed is impressive, of course. But, quite honestly, the way they hit left-handed has left me in awe

To play or not to play? It’s a dilemma that club golfers have been wrestling with for the last couple of weeks. 

For every person pointing out that golf involves a natural amount of social distancing and plays an important part regarding mental health, there’s another worrying about whether it’s a good look, given the Government guidelines about non-essential travel and social contact. 

I’ve put my qualms to one side and slipped in a couple of enjoyable games over the past week at my club, Wallasey, where I think they’ve got it right. They’ve closed the clubhouse, the elder members are largely staying away to self-isolate, there’s no touching of flags, and the bunkers have been declared ground under repair so there’s no need to handle rakes. 

Nobody lingered in the car park before or after their round, either. No doubt it will be taken out of our hands but, for now, I’m going to continue siding — at a safe distance — with those who want to keep playing 




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