How the coronavirus pandemic has affected the golf calendar

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The Open is still scheduled to take place for now
Posted on
March 25, 2020
The Editorial Team in
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
How the coronavirus pandemic has affected the golf calendar
The golfing calendar has been decimated (Richard Sellers/PA)

Like all sports, golf is currently getting to grips with effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Postponements and cancellations have hit across the board, and here, the PA news agency looks in detail at the impact.

What has definitely been cancelled?

The Players Championship has been the biggest event cancelled to date, a decision taken after the first round had been completed. Organisers had originally planned to stage the last three rounds behind closed doors at Sawgrass but were forced into a rethink by the rapidly developing situation. Seven of the following eight regular events on the PGA Tour have also been cancelled, while two regular European Tour events have also been scrapped.

Which events have been postponed and until when?

On Tuesday the Tokyo Olympics were postponed until 2021, affecting the men’s and women’s golf competitions which were scheduled for July 30-August 2 and August 5-8 respectively.

Two of the season’s majors, the Masters and US PGA Championship, have been postponed and not yet rescheduled. An early October date for the Masters has been rumoured while PGA of America officials hope to stage the US PGA at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco “at a date this summer”. The first women’s major of the year, the ANA Inspiration, which had been scheduled for April 2-5 at Mission Hills Country Club in California, will take place at the same venue from September 10-13.

Six regular European Tour events have been postponed and not yet rescheduled. The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open from May 28-31 is the next possible event on the schedule.

What is likely to go soon?

The US Open is due to take place at Winged Foot from June 18-21, but the course is just five miles away from the coronavirus containment zone set up in New Rochelle, New York and governor Andrew Cuomo ordered non-essential businesses to close from Sunday evening, putting a stop to preparations. A decision on staging the tournament is expected in mid-April.

Is anything likely to remain on in 2020 (on current advice)?

The R&A said last week it is proceeding as planned to stage The Open at Royal St George’s from July 16-19 and the AIG Women’s British Open at Royal Troon from August 20-23, but was undertaking a “comprehensive evaluation” of its plans and considering contingency options.

Officials were quick to describe a report that the Ryder Cup would be postponed by a year as “inaccurate” and time is at least on their side given that the biennial contest is scheduled for September 25-27.

More individual events are likely to be postponed or cancelled but the golfing calendar effectively runs year-round so tournaments will be in place when the go-ahead is given to resume.

Where does the sport go from here?

One of the options reportedly under consideration by the European Tour would be to squeeze three tournaments into a two-week period, with an event played from Monday to Thursday followed by a day’s break, another running Saturday to Tuesday followed by a day’s break and then a third from Thursday to Sunday.

The possible October date for the Masters would clash with the Italian Open, one of the European Tour’s prestigious Rolex Series events, but although that would severely weaken the field for the £5.9million tournament, it would likely go ahead and offer a valuable playing opportunity for lower-ranked players who would otherwise have missed out.

The LPGA has more open weeks than other tours and has been able to reschedule the ANA Inspiration by moving the tournament originally scheduled for its new date to the following week. It has also been suggested that two postponed LPGA tournaments could be combined into one, thereby creating a doubled prize fund.

The postponement of the Olympics opens up a week on the PGA Tour schedule – possibly for a major – but not on the European Tour, which has scheduled the British Masters for the same week as the men’s competition in Tokyo.

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