THE 2020 Senior Open at Sunningdale has been postponed due to the continuing threat posed by the spread of the coronavirus.
Europe’s only Senior Major Championship was scheduled to take place on the stunning Old Course at Sunningdale Golf Club, from July 23-25.
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, an executive director at The R&A, said: “We have made the decision to postpone the Senior Open presented by Rolex following discussions with all stakeholders – and with public health and wellbeing the absolute priority.
“We will continue to investigate alternative options to host The Senior Open later in the year – if at all possible – and will make an announcement in due course.”
Sunningdale last hosted the championship in 2015 when American Marco Dawson claimed the trophy for the first time, ending Bernhard Langer’s hopes of a third Senior Claret Jug.
And it also denied Colin Montgomerie a first Senior Claret Jug, as Dawson produced two eagles in his final round as he reeled in Monty’s four-shot lead with nine holes to play.
Langer went on to win the title in 2017 at Royal Porthcawl, and Langer would have been the defending champion in August, after his two-shot victory over Paul Broadhurst at Royal Lytham, last summer.
The 62-year-old German has a record of 11 Senior Majors to his name as the 1985 Masters winner – the second European to win a Green Jacket at Augusta after Seve’s historic win in 1980 – continues to defy his age.
Langer spoke last month about how much he was looking forward to returning to the club on the Surrey-Berkshire border.
He said: “I am really looking forward to returning to Sunningdale Golf Club.
“I remember the battle I had with Marco and Colin a few years ago, so it will be good to go back and create new memories.
“To win The Senior Open means a great deal as it is one of the highlights of the year and it was a great feeling to lift The Senior Open trophy last season.
“There are new, younger stars taking part every year, making the event one of the toughest to win, and I expect much of the same this time.
“Sunningdale is a special course with a lot of history and I have been in the mix on the two occasions the championship has been held there – so it would mean a lot to perform well once again.”
Sunningdale also hosted the event in 2009 when Lauren Roberts – the Boss of the Moss – beat Fred Funk and Marc McNulty in a play-off on the famous heathland course.
The Old Course was designed by Willie Park Jnr and opened in 1901, with Harry Colt’s New Course opening in 1923.
Mark Aspland, head of the Staysure Tour, said: “The decision to postpone The Senior Open has been made in the best interests of everyone involved.
“Our priority is ensuring the health and safety of all players, spectators and sponsors, and it is therefore the right decision to postpone the event.
‘We will continue to work closely with The R&A, Rolex and other key stakeholders to reschedule the event at a later date when we have further clarity on the global situation.
“Our thoughts are with everyone right now as we continue the global fight against the spread of coronavirus.”
The decision came on Tuesday as the Cabinet – in the absence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson who is recovering at Chequers after spending three days in intensive care last week suffering from COVID-19 – was preparing to extend the current lockdown in the UK as it entered a fourth week.
Five Senior Majors in 2020 are off
ALL five Senior Majors of the season have either been called off or rearranged because of the coronavirus pandemic.
And the first three dates on the European Seniors Tour calendar have also been postponed.
The Murhof Legends – Austrian Senior Open due to be held at Golfclub Murhof, Frohnleiten, from May 14-16,was cancelled last month along with the Italian Senior Open at Argentario Golf Resort & Spa, in Porto Ecole, from May 23-31.
The French Senior Open – presented by Jean Van De Velde – which was set to be played at Golf d’Arras in Anzin-Saint-Aubin, is another casualty.
The KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship – due to be held at Harbor Shores Resort in Michigan’s Benton Harbor, from May 21-24, was the second Seniors Major of 2020 to be called off.
The PGA of America announced it was being cancelled on April 2 – a lockdown order in Michigan was in place until April 13, leaving the organisers not enough time to complete preparations.
PGA of America chief executive Seth Waugh said: “While we are incredibly disappointed, we all understand that protecting public health is the highest priority.
“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.”
The Senior PGA will return to Harbor Shores in 2022, the PGA said when it announced the cancellation.
Next year’s Senior PGA Championship will take place at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from May 27-30.
US Senior Open at Newport CC moves to 2021
THE 41st US Senior Open – scheduled for Rhode Island’s Newport Country Club from June 25-28 – was cancelled last week.
The announcement came at the same time as the USGA’s decision to move the US Open back to September was taken, as well as calling off the third US Senior Women’s Open.
The men’s US Senior will now be played at Nebraska’s Omaha Country Club from July 8-11, in 2021.
“Canceling this year’s Senior Open championships was a very difficult decision to make,” said USGA chief exectuive Mike Davis.
“Not only are they important pillars of our championship schedule, but we also value our relationships with both Newport Country Club and Brooklawn Country Club, and were looking forward to staging incredible events there this summer.
“Given the ongoing health and safety issues related to COVID-19 and the significant consolidation of schedules into the back half of 2020, including the postponement of the US Women’s Open and US Open, we felt it necessary to make these unfortunate adjustments to our 2020 championship plans,” Davis added.
The only US Senior Open win for Bernhard Langer came at Sahalee Country Club, in Washington State, in 2010, when he finished three strokes ahead of Fred Couples.
The PGA Champions Tour had already cancelled or postponed four tournaments set to take place in the run up to the Senior PGA.
They included the Regions Tradition – the year’s first Seniors Major, which should have been played at Greystone G&CC in Birmingham, Alabama, from May 7-10.
It has been rescheduled for September 24-27.
The next PGA Tour Champions event on the schedule is the American Family Insurance Championship at Madison, Wisconsin, from June 5-7.