Augusta National Women's Am, USGA Senior Opens are latest prominent golf events canceled for 2020
Kevin C. Cox
Golf fans are mostly grateful at Monday's joint announcement from the game's governing bodies, in which they offer hope that three of the four men's majors and the Ryder Cup can still be played in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, as the sport does its best to salvage as many events as possible, some tournaments have become causality of the schedule crunch.
At the forefront of these cancellations is the Open Championship. Four days after Golf Digest reported that the Open was not expected to be played this season, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers officially announced the world's oldest tournament had been called off for 2020.
“I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing the Open this year, but it is not going to be possible," Slumbers said.
Slumbers later remarked it would have been "unreasonable" to "rely on the support of the emergency services, local authorities and a range of other organizations" given the demands of the COVID-19 outbreak. Conversely, part of the reason the championship is being canceled—rather than postponed as is the case for the other three men's majors—is because of insurance, a source told Golf Digest last week. Similar to Wimbledon, the R&A has a policy that shields against a global pandemic.
It marks the first time the Open will not have been played since 1945, when it was canceled because of World War II. Slumbers said Royal St. George's will now be the venue for the 2021 Open Championship and the Old Course at St. Andrews will host in 2022 rather than 2021. The Women's British Open remains on the LPGA schedule, slotted for Aug. 20, while the R&A and USGA had already postponed this year's Curtis Cup until 2021.
Next is the Augusta National Women's Amateur. Although the Masters will be held in November, the club has decided it would have to wait until 2021 to follow up the event's 2019 debut. "Ultimately, the many scheduling challenges with NCAA tournaments, the World Amateur Team Championships, the LPGA Q-Series and other events when women’s amateur golf resumes led to this decision," Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said in a statement.
Ridley did clarify that each player who accepted an invitation for the 2020 championship will be welcomed to compete in the 2021 Augusta National Women’s Amateur, provided they remain an amateur. That might mean increasing the field in 2021 beyond the 72 players expected to play this year.
Likewise, the USGA has scrubbed two of its majors, the U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Senior Women’s Open, for 2020. The 41st U.S. Senior Open had been scheduled for June 25-28 at Newport (R.I.) Country Club and now will be played at Omaha (Neb.) Country Club from July 8-11, 2021. The 3rd U.S. Senior Women’s Open, had been scheduled to take place July 9-12 at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Conn.
“Canceling this year’s Senior Open championships was a very difficult decision to make,” said USGA CEO Mike Davis. “Not only are they important pillars of our championship schedule, but we also value our relationships with both Newport Country Club and Brooklawn Country Club and were looking forward to staging incredible events there this summer. Given the ongoing health and safety issues related to COVID-19 and the significant consolidation of schedules into the back half of 2020, including the postponement of the U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Open, we felt it necessary to make these unfortunate adjustments to our 2020 championship plans.”
The USGA's first two scheduled championships for 2020, the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball and U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, were canceled on March 17. The USGA stated it will continue to rely on CDC and WHO recommendations in determining schedule considerations for its remaining eight 2020 amateur championships. The U.S. Open at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y. has been postponed until Sept. 17; the U.S. Women's Open, originally scheduled for June 4-7 at Champions Golf Club in Houston, will now be played Dec. 10-13.
The PGA of America announced last week that its Senior PGA Championship, scheduled for May 21-24 at Harbor Shores Resort in Benton Harbor, Mich., has been canceled. “While we are incredibly disappointed, we all understand that protecting public health is the highest priority,” PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said. For the moment, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is scheduled to go on as planned for June 25-28 at Aronimink in Newton Square, Pa.
The PGA Tour could see additional cancelations to its calendar, but as of now, the Tour has only announced it's moving its regular-season finale, the Wyndham Championship, and all three FedEx Cup Playoff events one week later, starting the week of Aug. 10 and concluding with a Monday, Sept. 7 finish for the Tour Championship. The Tour is also working to reschedule tournaments into the weeks formerly occupied by the U.S. Open, British Open and men's Olympic golf competition in June and July.
As for the European Tour, the Old World circuit released little information in the joint statement. The Scandinavian Mixed scheduled to begin June 11 and the D+D Real Czech Masters slotted for Aug. 20 have already been canceled, but the European Tour only added more details about its schedule would be coming "of due course."