THE R&A have announced that both of its major amateur championships – and the women’s Curtis Cup clash with America – are being put back to later dates because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Amateur Championship – due to be held at Royal Birkdale and West Lancashire from June 15-20 – and the Women’s Amateur Championship, which was set for a week later at Kilmarnock (Barassie), are now scheduled to be played in the week commencing August 24.
The biennial Curtis Cup clash between the USA and Great Britain and Ireland – which was set to be played at Conwy Golf Club, in North Wales, from June 12-14, has been put back until 2021 after talks with the United States Golf Association (USGA).
The winner of the Amateur Championship earns a place in The Open Championship – but the 2020 winner at Royal Birkdale may miss out unless the R&A subsequently postpone the 149th Open Championship, which is due to be played at Royal St George’s in July.
The R&A are currently considering whether its plans for The Open at Sandwich, can go ahead because of the threat from COVID-19 which has led to more than 2,300 deaths in the UK in the past month.
An R&A spokesman said: “Following advice provided by the UK Government, health authorities and our own medical consultants in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have postponed the amateur championships and international match due to be played in June.”
Duncan Weir, the R&A’s director of amateur championships, said: “We have a responsibility to protect the health and well-being of the players and everyone involved in our events so it is the right course of action to take.
“We are grateful to all of
the venues for their continuing support in these challenging circumstances and
will update everyone involved with our plans.”
“We continue to review our 2020 professional championships and the remainder of our domestic amateur season.
“Further information will be issued in due course.”
A date for the 2021 Curtis Cup will be announced in due course, the R&A spokesman added.
Curtis Cup dates back to 1932
THE Curtis Cup dates back to 1932 – the Americans currently lead with 30 wins to GB&I’s 10 victories – and since 2008 the match has been played over three days.
The United States won the last Curtis Cup at Quaker Ridge, in New York, with the hosts having won the last five.
GB&I broke a losing sequence dating back to their win at Ireland’s Killarney Golf & Fishing Club in 1996 when they beat the USA at Nairn Golf Club, in 2012 under the captaincy of Wales’ Tegwen Matthews.
Hampshire pair won Amateur Championship back-to-back
THE Amateur Championship was won in 2019 by Ireland’s James Sugrue, from Mallow GC, who went on to play for GB&I against America in the Walker Cup, at Hoylake, in September.
The Irishman featured alongside Stoke Park’s English Amateur Champion Conor Gough at Royal Liverpool GC, where the USA ran out winners by 151/2-101/2.
The Buckinghamshire teenager was just 17 when he made his Walker Cup debut, having won the English crown at Hankley Common, six weeks earlier when he was still 16.
Harry Ellis, who holds the record as the youngest English Amateur Champion at 16, won the Amateur Championship when it was held at Royal St George’s in 2017.
The Florida State University graduate from Meon Valley G&CC, who is now a member at Wentworth, was the second Hampshire player to win in a row after Corhampton’s Scott Gregory claimed the historic prize at Royal Porthcawl.
Gregory, who is now playing on the Challenge Tour, beat Scotland’s Robert McIntyre at Royal Porthcawl in 2016, with the pair playing with Ellis in the 2017 Walker Cup at Los Angeles Country Club.
Other recent winners of the men’s title include South Africa’s Jovan Rebula, who beat Ireland’s Robin Dawson at Royal Aberdeen two years ago, and France’s Romain Langasque, who beat Scot Grant Forrest at Carnoustie, five years ago.
Mattias Schwab, who lost to Rathmore’s Alan Dunbar, at Royal Troon in 2012, and Zander Lombard – beaten in the final by Blairgowrie’s Bradley Neil at Royal Portrush in 2014, have both gone on to play on the European Tour.
Meanwhile the winners of those two Amateur Championships have not translated their wins into success in the pro ranks. Although Neil has played on the European Challenge Tour.