Golf world awaiting British Open’s decision to reschedule majors amid coronavirus pandemic

Leaders in the golf world, like everywhere else, are working to put together new schedules for tournaments displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While there appear to be plans in place, they are all awaiting one decision from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.

The R&A denied reports last week that it was planning to cancel The British Open all together — which would mark the first time since 1945, when it was canceled due to World War II, that the world’s oldest tournament wasn’t played. Instead, it said that it is “continuing to work through our options this year, including postponement.”

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Until that call is made one way or another, it appears everyone else is stuck waiting.

Keeping the U.S. Open at Winged Foot

When news broke that the United States Golf Association was planning to postpone the U.S. Open, which was scheduled to start on June 18, the goal was to keep the tournament at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York.

The course, which is located just outside New York City and was closed down indefinitely due to the coronavirus, was set to host its first U.S. Open since 2006.

The U.S. Open, according to Golfweek, is already looking into several new options for the annual tournament. Should the British Open cancel altogether, the U.S. Open hopes to take the Sept. 17-20 slot and keep the tournament at Winged Foot. If the British Open postpones instead, the likely date for it would be Sept. 17-20, per the report, just before the Ryder Cup in Wisconsin.

If that’s the case, the U.S. Open would be forced to take a later slot — and almost certainly need a new venue.

According to Golfweek, it is already looking at courses on the west coast that could hold the event, including both Pebble Beach, which held the tournament last year, or Torrey Pines, which is due to host it next year.

“What dictates where [it is held] is when that other date is,” USGA chief brand officer Craig Annis said, via ESPN. “If it's in the window of the early part of fall and we're in the Northeast, and assuming that all of the health and safety considerations are right, you could have it at Winged Foot in the fall. If it goes deeper into the fall, that is going [to have] us look at other locations.

“All of this is linked to agronomy, climate, weather, daylight. When we play the U.S. Open [in June], it's almost peak daylight. When you move away from that, you have to factor that in as well. We have 156 players, how do you get them around? All of these things come together and they are all factors that we are considering.”

The Masters, PGA Championship, Ryder Cup

The Masters was scheduled to start next week at Augusta National in Georgia, though was postponed due to the outbreak. According to Golfweek, it is now tentatively scheduled for the week of Nov. 9.

The PGA Championship, per the report, is looking at Aug. 6-9 at Harding Park in California, which would quickly be followed by the Wyndham Championship and the three FedExCup Playoffs events — which hope to finish with the Tour Championship on Sept. 6.

The Ryder Cup is still scheduled for its original dates, starting on Sept. 25 at Whistling Straits.

As for other PGA Tour events, officials have reportedly told players that tournament field will be expanded where possible when play eventually resumes to help golfers make up for lost time.

Will golf be played at all this year?

Even though officials are trying to find ways to make a revised schedule work, it may not matter in the end.

There were more than 1 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide as of Friday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 258,000 in the United States alone, more than double the count in any other country. Many major cities in the United States haven’t yet hit their peak, and aren’t expected to anytime soon.

To put it into sports terms, as the CDC’s Dr. Anthony Fauci did while speaking with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski on Thursday, “we’re not even at halftime.”

Many are already predicting that both college football and the NFL will be canceled or significantly altered this fall, too. Without widespread testing, something still not readily available, or a vaccine, which officials don’t expect anytime soon, it’s hard to imagine events returning to normal.

And if there’s no football being played, it’s a safe bet that there won’t be golf, either.

“Whenever golf can be played in a way that is safe for players, for fans and for all involved ... everyone is eager to get back out there,” Annis said, via ESPN. “But at the same time, we're taking guidance from all the various agencies and government officials and frankly they are telling us in the near future nothing is going to happen. And for good reason. A lot of the discussion centers around what it will look like with a unified view.”

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