07 Apr 2020 | Professional golf |
Open cancelled, other majors reloaded
by Mark Hayes
Golf’s crown jewel has been stolen away by Covid-19.
On the day when other major championships had new dates scheduled, the R&A announced that the 2020 Open Championship has been cancelled.
The Open was scheduled to be played at Royal St George’s from 16-19 July, but the R&A acted on “guidance from the UK Government (and) health authorities” to make its call.
The 149th edition of the Open now will be played at the same venue from 15-18 July, 2021.
The 150th Open will now be played at St Andrews from 14-17 July, 2022.
It has been a year of tumult for the men’s major championships. The US PGA Championship, originally scheduled for 14-17 May, is now scheduled for 6-9 August at Harding Park in San Francisco, a date freed up by the Olympic postponement.
The US Open, originally scheduled for 16-19 June at Winged Foot in New York, is moving to 17-20 September, one week before the Ryder Cup.
The Masters, originally planned for this week at Augusta National, is moving to 12-15 November.
Bar years out for World Wars (1915-19 and 1940-45) and 1871, when the Open was cancelled because a suitable trophy could not be found, it has been played annually since 1860.
“Our absolute priority is to protect the health and safety of the fans, players, officials, volunteers and staff involved in the Open,” R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said.
“We care deeply about this historic championship and have made this decision with a heavy heart. 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.
“It is the right thing to do.
“I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing the Open this year, but it is not going to be possible.
“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 to stage the championship and it would be unreasonable to place any additional demands on them when they have far more urgent priorities to deal with.
“In recent weeks we have been working closely with those organisations as well as Royal St George’s, St Andrews Links Trust and the other golf bodies to resolve the remaining external factors and have done so as soon as we possibly could.
“I would like to thank our fans around the world and all of our partners for their support and understanding.
“At a difficult time like this, we have to recognise that sport must stand aside to let people focus on keeping themselves and their families healthy and safe.
“We are committed to supporting our wider community in the weeks and months ahead and will do everything in our power to help golf come through this crisis.”
The R&A will transfer tickets and hospitality packages purchased for the Championship in 2020 to the Open in 2021. Purchasers who no longer wish to (or are no longer able to) attend in 2021 will receive a full refund. Further information on this process will be sent directly to ticket and hospitality purchasers in due course, the R&A said.
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