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A fanless Women's British Open at Royal Troon still set for August

July 07, 2020

Japan's Hinako Shibuno celebrates her victory at the 2019 AIG Women's British Open last August.

Richard Heathcote

There’s not going to be an Open Championship at Royal St. George’s next week. And the British Senior Open won’t be taking place at Sunningdale one week after that. But next month the AIG Women’s British Open at Royal Troon (Aug. 20-23) will go ahead—albeit without spectators—assuming players flying to Scotland from the United States are exempted by the Scottish government from the two-week quarantine restrictions currently in place.

That looks more than likely, however, as does the playing of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Women’s Open at The Renaissance Club Aug. 13-16. Although both are “subject to the necessary approvals being secured,” a statement released by the R&A, which runs the Women’s British Open, contained a more than encouraging message from Fiona Hyslop, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture.

“Scotland is the home of golf and so it is fitting that we are on course to host golf’s first major of 2020, the AIG Women’s British Open,” Hyslop said. “This is only possible thanks to the dedication of the R&A in working with the Scottish government and other partners to develop comprehensive plans to allow for an event of this stature to take place, set against the most challenging of circumstances. I’m especially pleased that we are able to support the return of female professional golf, underlining our commitment to equality across both sport and society.”

The field at Troon—nine times an Open Championship venue but hosting the Women’s Open for the first time—will be comprised of the leading players from the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings as well as recognizing successful players from recent tournaments staged on the world’s leading tours. Pre-qualifying and final qualifying events for the championship have been canceled based on health and safety advice.

As has been the case on the PGA Tour, and will be on the European Tour later this month, the championship will enforce strict health and safety protocols including the creation of a bio secure zone. Only personnel essential to the event’s onsite operations—namely players, caddies, officials, and staging staff—will be inside the zone with their movements for the week limited to the golf course and designated secure hotel (likely near Glasgow Airport). All personnel will be required to return a negative COVID-19 test from an authorized testing center and will be subject to further daily temperature checks and rigorous protocols designed to maintain the integrity of the zone and the health of those within it.

“The AIG Women’s British Open is important to the success of women’s professional golf,” said R&A chief executive Martin Slumber. “We have been working closely with our title sponsor AIG, Visit Scotland, Royal Troon and our key advisors to find a way for the Championship to be played safely this year. We believe that playing the AIG Women’s British Open is a significant step for players whose playing opportunities have been severely impacted this year.”

One player especially pleased is European Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew, who lives in North Berwick, less than five miles from the Renaissance Club.

“We are all happy to hear that women’s golf will be getting back underway in Scotland,” said the 2009 Women’s British Open champion. “With men’s professional golf back playing, it is important that we are able to follow suit, so this is really excellent news for the women’s game and I am delighted to be preparing for my national open in just over a month’s time.”