THE Masters will be rescheduled to November it was announced this afternoon – just minutes after it was confirmed the 149th Open Championship at Royal St George’s will now take place at Sandwich in 2021.
And the US Open is moving to September six weeks after the PGA of America hopes to stage the USPGA at San Francisco’s TPC Harding Park in light of coronavirus pandemic, spreading across the USA.
The PGA Tour is looking to reschedule three of its events in June, July and early August, allowing for the FedEx Play-offs to be played as planned in August.
Both the PGA of America and the European Tour have confirmed the Ryder Cup will be played – if possible – at Whistling Straits, in Wisconsin, from September 25-27, as originally planned.
But the rescheduling means the world’s top golfers could be left playing five weeks in a row – from the USPGA until the climax to the FedEx play-offs at the Tour Championsip, at Eastlake, from September 4-7.
The US Open will be played after a week off, with the leading Americans and Euoropeans heading from New York to Wisconsin for the Ryder Cup.
The unprecedented game of musical chairs was confirmed after weeks of speculation in joint statement issued by Augusta National Golf Club, the European Tour, the LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour, The R&A and USGA.
A joint statement issued by the seven organisations on Monday afternoon read: “This is a difficult and challenging time for everyone coping with the effects of this pandemic.
“We remain very mindful of the obstacles ahead, and each organization will continue to follow the guidance of the leading public health authorities, conducting competitions only if it is safe and responsible to do so.
“In recent weeks, the global golf community has come together to collectively put forward a calendar of events that will, we hope, serve to entertain and inspire golf fans around the world.
“We are grateful to our respective partners, sponsors and players, who have allowed us to make decisions – some of them, very tough decisions – in order to move the game and the industry forward.
“We want to reiterate that Augusta National Golf Club, European Tour, LPGA, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, The R&A and USGA collectively value the health and well-being of everyone, within the game of golf and beyond, above all else.
“We encourage everyone to follow all responsible precautions and make effort to remain healthy and safe.”
US Open set to stay at Winged Foot
THE US Open, previously scheduled for June 18-21 at Winged Foot, in Mamaroneck, has been officially rescheduled for September 17-20.
United States Golf Association chief executive Mike Davis confirmed the USGA’s preference to keep the US Open in New York, which has borne the brunt of the wave of COVID-19 deaths in America over the past week.
Mr David said: “We are hopeful that postponing the championship will offer us the opportunity to mitigate health and safety issues while still providing us with the best opportunity to conduct the U.S. Open this year.
“We are incredibly thankful to the membership and staff at Winged Foot for their flexibility and support.
“We are also grateful for the wonderful collaboration among the professional tours and other majors in working through a complicated schedule.”
A statement from the game’s governing body in North America, read: “The USGA is currently evaluating how the postponement will affect exemption categories, and definitive changes will be communicated as soon as possible.
“As previously announced, the USGA will strive to conduct qualifying that fits health and safety guidelines while accommodating the rescheduled championship dates.”
‘Golf can help world recover from COVID-19’
PGA of America chief executive Seth Waugh also believes golf has an important role to play as the world tries to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
“Sports, and particularly the game of golf, are important vehicles for healing and hope,” said Mr Waugh who confirmed the USPGA – which had seen its early May slot cancelled shortly after the decision to cancel April’s Masters was made – will now move to the first week in August.
“With the help of the City and County of San Francisco, our friends at the PGA Tour, and our partners CBS Sports and ESPN, we are holding August 3-9 as dates for a rescheduled 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park,” Seth Waugh added.
“We will continue to follow the guidance of public health officials, but are hopeful that it will be safe and responsible to conduct the PGA Championship in August and the Ryder Cup as planned, from September 22-27, at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, with our NBC Sports partners.
“With our country going through extremely difficult times, it will be an honour for all of us at the PGA of America to hopefully help turn a page in August, with the PGA Championship, and September with the Ryder Cup.”
The men’s golf championship at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games was due to be played the week before but its cancellation allowed the USPGA to move into what had been a free week on the PGA Tour schedule.
Augusta National: ‘Masters can bring moment of joy’
The host club were determined to try to avoid that and the new autumn date will be a first – providing the grip the coronavirus pandemic has Stateside abates by then.
Augusta National Golf Club chairman Fred Ridley said: “We remain very mindful of the extraordinary and unprecedented challenges presented by the coronavirus around the world.
“As such, we continue to keep in close contact with local, state and national health authorities to help inform our decisions.
“In collaboration with the leading organisations in golf, Augusta National Golf Club has identified November 9-15 as the intended dates to host the 2020 Masters.
“While more details will be shared in the weeks and months to come, we, like all of you, will continue to focus on all mandated precautions and guidelines to fight against the coronavirus.
“Along the way, we hope the anticipation of staging the Masters Tournament in the fall brings a moment of joy to the Augusta community and all those who love the sport.
“We want to emphasise that our future plans are incumbent upon favourable counsel and direction from health officials.
“Provided that occurs and we can conduct the 2020 Masters, we intend to invite those professionals and amateurs who would have qualified for our original April date – and welcome all existing ticketholders to enjoy the excitement of Masters week.
“After careful consideration and following an extensive review process, we also have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
“Ultimately, the many scheduling challenges with NCAA tournaments, the World Amateur Team Championships, the LPGA Q-Series and other events when women’s amateur golf resumes led to this decision.
“Each player who accepted an invitation for the 2020 championship will be invited to compete in the 2021 Augusta National Women’s Amateur, provided she remains an amateur.
“Also, those who purchased tickets will be sent a refund in May and given the opportunity to purchase tickets for the event next year.
“We thank everyone for their understanding of this decision, and we look forward to the championship returning in full strength next spring.
“We know the effects of these announcements will be far-reaching.
“Thank you for your continued support and we wish you and your loved ones health and safety during these uncertain times.”