R&A planning on 'significant' number of fans at Open Championship

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Martin Slumbers, R&A chief executive, said Tuesday that he expects a “significant number of fans” to attend the Open Championship this summer.

In a message to fans that was released on social media, Slumbers said that the improving COVID-19 numbers in the United Kingdom and the rapid vaccination rollout give the R&A confidence that it can successfully stage the Open as part of its “reduced capacity model.”

“I would like to be able to give greater clarity on our plans at this stage,” Slumbers said, “but we recognize that a number of important decisions have still to be made by the government on issues such as social distancing, testing and Covid certification, which will have a significant bearing on the potential level of attendance at the Championship.”

The 149th Open Championship will allow limited fans

The Open was the only major to be canceled last year because of the pandemic. It will be staged once again at Royal St. George’s in England on July 15-18.

The Masters was held in April with a limited number of patrons, while next week’s PGA is expected to feature at least 10,000 fans each day. The USGA has said that the limited fans at Torrey Pines must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result if they’re a California resident, and those out of state must have proof of vaccination.

“Our end goal remains to stage a fantastic Open at Royal St. George’s and give our fans and players something to be genuinely thrilled about this summer,” Slumbers said. “It has been too long since we have been able to see the world’s best men’s golfers competing on one of our greatest links courses, and I’m sure you are looking forward as eagerly as I am to what will be a truly memorable sporting occasion.”