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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