The R&A is understood to be edging closer to a postponement of the Open Championship, amid a growing realisation golf’s oldest major cannot be held in July at Royal St George’s. An announcement could be made following talks next week, with the Open’s organisers hopeful of rescheduling the tournament for later in the year as a backup plan.
With the Masters and US PGA Championship already postponed, the US Open and Open are the two men’s majors left in their designated spots. The US Open is due to start on 18 June at Winged Foot in New York, and reports in the United States suggest an unsurprising postponement is imminent.
With more than 200,000 spectators due to attend the Open, which runs from 16-19 July, there is a rising sense the coronavirus pandemic won’t have settled sufficiently for the tournament to be staged in satisfactory form for players or fans. The Open clearly falls under “mass gathering” criteria, with issues relating to mass international travel also pertinent.
The R&A’s contingency has been the topic for deep discussion at high levels in recent days. Weather and light restrictions would theoretically leave September as the last month in which the Open can be played. This year is the 149th playing of the Open, with 150 scheduled for the home of golf, St Andrews, next July. With that in mind, the tournament’s organisers are anxious to hold their major this year. Any extended schedule delays could impact on Royal Liverpool and Royal Troon, which have already been confirmed as venues for 2022 and 2023.
The R&A pointed towards their statement of last Thursday when asked for an update on the Open. In it, the chief executive Martin Slumbers said: “Our absolute priority is to ensure the safety of players, fans, officials, staff and all involved in our championships and that will be at the forefront of our thinking as we monitor developments.”
It was announced on Friday that the Evian Championship, another women’s major, has been rescheduled for 6-9 August from 23-26 July. The August window was originally intended for the women’s Olympic golf tournament, before the 2020 Tokyo Games were postponed. It is thought the PGA of America also hopes to play the US PGA Championship, originally set for May, from 6 August at Harding Park in San Francisco.
The former US Ryder Cup captain Davis Love and his wife escaped without injury after their home in Georgia was burnt down early on Friday morning. “While everyone in our family is saddened at the loss of our home that was filled with so much laugher and incredible memories, we’re very blessed that everyone is safe and unharmed,” said Love.