With the Masters postponed indefinitely due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, attention has now shifted to men’s golf’s three other major championships and how they might be affected.
It’s unclear how the US PGA Championship in May and June’s US Open will be affected but, as things stands, preparations for the Open Championship in July are pressing ahead.
The R&A told bunkered.co.uk this morning that the organisation is continuing to prepare for this year’s 149th edition of the championship – scheduled to take place at Royal St George’s in Kent from July 16-19 – as planned.
“We are proceeding with our plans for The 149th Open at Royal St George’s,” said an R&A spokeswoman. “Like all sports, we are continuing to monitor the situation during the current COVID-19 outbreak and will be carefully following the advice issued to us from the UK Government, relevant health authorities and our medical consultants.”
It has been speculated that, in the event this year’s championship has to be cancelled, all future confirmed dates will move along by a year, with the result that Royal St George’s stages the event in 2021, followed by St Andrews – the scheduled 2021 venue – hosting in 2022.
The R&A spokeswoman we spoke to refused to be drawn on speculation but did add: “Our regular planning for The Open covers a range of contingencies.”
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By extension of a pattern that has emerged over the last few decades, which has seen it stage The Open in years ending ‘0’ and ‘5’, St Andrews should have been this year’s host venue. However, the R&A made an exception to ensure that the 150th edition of the championship is played over the Old Course.
Assuming they are keen to stick to that plan, it is reasonable to assume their ‘range of contingencies’ includes measures to make that happen.
On Friday, Augusta National Golf Club announced that next month’s Masters has been had to be postponed by the outbreak of the disease.
“Unfortunately, the ever-increasing risks associated with the widespread Coronavirus COVID-19 have led us to a decision that undoubtedly will be disappointing to many, although I am confident is appropriate under these unique circumstances,” said Fred Ridley, the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.
Yesterday, we reported that Jack Nicklaus – a six-time winner of the Green Jacket – is skeptical that the tournament will be played at any point this year.