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2020 British Open to be canceled due to coronavirus pandemic, sources say

April 01, 2020
The Open Championship Media Day

Mark Runnacles

The R&A is expected to cancel the 2020 Open Championship, multiple sources tell Golf Digest. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak about the cancellation publicly.

The decision, which could be announced as early as this week, comes after the All England Club canceled the Wimbledon tennis tournament (scheduled for June 29) on Wednesday. Sources told Golf Digest last week the R&A was awaiting the decision on Wimbledon before proceeding.

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers released a statement on Thursday in which he said that the organization was still deciding the fate of the championship.

“We are continuing to work through our options for The Open this year, including postponement,” Slumbers said in the statement. “Due to a range of external factors, that process is taking some time to resolve. We are well aware of the importance of being able to give clear guidance to fans, players and everyone involved and are working to resolve this as soon as we can. We will give a further update as soon as we are in a position to do so and thank everyone for their support and understanding in this challenging situation.”

However, sources reiterated to Golf Digest that it is anticipated the tournament will ultimately be canceled.

The Open was set to be contested starting July 16 at Royal St. George's Golf Club in England, which would have hosted its 15th Open and first since 2011. The last time the Open wasn't played was in 1945 because of World War II.

Part of the reason the championship is being canceled rather than postponed like the Masters and PGA Championship has to do with insurance, a source says. Similar to Wimbledon, the R&A has a policy that shields against a global pandemic, and a source indicated the Open would have to cancel by a certain date in order to collect on its insurance premium.

“The R&A is the most [insured] of all the tournaments,” a source said. “They have complete cancellation insurance. I just don’t see any golf [being played] before August.”

The R&A is still weighing whether to return to Royal St. George's for the Open in 2021, or to stick to its previously announced future dates. The Old Course at St. Andrews is slated to host the Open in 2021, with Royal Liverpool on the docket for 2022 and Royal Troon in 2023. The 2021 Open at St. Andrews was supposed to be the 150th playing of the Open, but a cancellation would impact that and perhaps cause the R&A to shift all venues back a year.

Earlier on Wednesday, the USGA and R&A formally announced that the 41st Curtis Cup, set to be held at Conwy Golf Club in Wales, will be pushed back to summer of 2021. The R&A also pushed back the British Amateur and British Women's Amateur from June to August.