U.S. Open still focused on playing at Winged Foot in September despite coronavirus pandemic

Yahoo Sports

The course may be just miles from one of the biggest outbreaks of COVID-19 in the country, but the United States Golf Association is still extremely optimistic about holding the U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club in September.

The U.S. Open was rescheduled from June to September due to the coronavirus pandemic, part of the PGA Tour’s revised schedule for the 2019-20 season. Organizers have looked at moving the tournament away from Winged Foot — which sits less than 12 miles north of The Bronx in New York City — but they are now “focused singularly” on hosting it there in mid-September.

“Once we got the September dates, that was our thinking,” USGA senior managing director of championships John Bodenhamer said Friday, via ESPN. “Time is on our side. We did look at multiple scenarios, but given the recent news we felt we could focus there.

“Winged Foot is a special place for us. And the golf course will be amazing. And to be able to do this in New York, where things have been so challenging, will put an exclamation point on it. We see Winged Foot as our sole focus.”

There were more than 1.7 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Friday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and nearly 103,000 deaths attributed to it.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

New York, and the New York City area especially, was one of the hardest-hit regions in the world. New York City itself had more than 206,000 confirmed cases, while the state had more than 373,000. Neighboring New Jersey had nearly 159,000 cases, too, the second-most in the country.

The PGA Tour is planning to resume play next month with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas, and will hold at least the first four events back without fans with several safety measures in place. The European Tour will pick back up in July and August, and is also planning to play without fans for the first six events. Three of the four major championships, including the U.S. Open, were rescheduled to the fall due to the pandemic. Only the British Open was canceled.

Despite that, however, the USGA is “cautiously optimistic” that it can allow at least some fans to attend the U.S. Open by September.

“We are cautiously optimistic that we will have spectators,” Bodenhamer said, via ESPN. “I'm looking at it as glass half full. [New York Gov. Andrew] Cuomo was very encouraging about wanting to reopen sports and we're going to be respectful of what New York and Westchester County wants us to do. But we viewed those as very positive remarks.

“We feel social distancing can be done in an outdoor arena, and we know it has been the epicenter, so we will be thoughtful about what are more important issues for them. But we're starting to think about what might be possible as far as fans, volunteers, media, a number of things. We are trying to be nimble.”

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