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The Masters, a tournament steeped in its April tradition, will now be played in November.
The U.S. Open at Winged Foot, scheduled for its usual Father’s Day weekend June 18-21, has been postponed until September.
The PGA Championship, slated for May in San Francisco, has now been moved to August.
And the oldest of all the major championships, the British Open, has been canceled altogether. Such has been the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
The schedule changes were unrolled on Monday after the R&A first announced in the morning that it was cancelling the British Open at Royal St. George’s in July. The last time it was abandoned was during World War II in 1945.
Tiger Woods might still get to defend his fifth Masters title, just not this week. The Augusta National Golf Club, which had long ago postponed the tournament and closed down, announced on Monday it will be played Nov. 12-15.
The United States Golf Association, as it has said all along, is trying to keep the U.S. Open on the West Course at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, moving its dates to Sept. 17-20. That is the week before the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin and the week after the U.S. Open tennis tournament at Flushing Meadows. The PGA Championship, now scheduled for Aug. 6-9, moves back into the month in which it had been for many years since moving to May two years ago.
All of golf’s organizing bodies were cautious about their ability to play.
“We want to emphasize that our future plans are incumbent upon favorable counsel and direction from health officials,” Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said in a statement.
“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,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA, in a statement. “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.”
PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh, who said the organization was “holding the dates” of the PGA, continued in a statement that "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 Sept. 22-27 at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin . . .”
Cancellation of the British Open follows the abandonment of the Wimbledon tennis championships last week. Both events are said to have insurance policies that cover pandemics.
“I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year but it is not going to be possible,” said R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers. “There are many different considerations that go into organizing a major sporting event of this scale.
“We rely on the support of the emergency services, local authorities and a range of other organizations 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.”
The PGA Tour is moving its regular season finale, the Wyndham Championship, and all three FedEx Cup Playoff events one week later, starting the week of Aug. 10 and concluding with a Monday, Sept. 7 finish for the Tour Championship. The PGA Tour will resume at Colonial Country Club for the Charles Schwab Challenge now scheduled for June 11-14. The Tour is contemplating putting tournaments in dates that belonged to the U.S. Open, British Open and Olympics.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan described the rescheduling as a complex situation, adding: “But all of that must be done while navigating the unprecedented global crisis that is impacting every single one of us.”
The USGA also announced the cancellation of the U.S. Senior Open at the Newport Country Club and the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at the Brooklawn Country Club. The U.S. Women’s Open, previously scheduled for the week of June 1-7 in Houston, had already been postponed to Dec. 7-13.
The new dates for golf's four premier events:
PGA Championship, TPC Harding Park, San Francisco, Aug. 6-9
U.S. Open, Winged Foot, Mamaroneck, N.Y., Sept. 17-20
The Masters, Augusta National, Augusta, Ga., Nov. 12-15
British Open, Royal St. George's, Sandwich, Kent, England, canceled