RBC Canadian Open likely to be canceled for second straight year due to COVID-19
Rory McIlroy wears a Toronto Raptors jersey after he won the 2019 RBC Canadian Open. The tournament was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, and sources tell Golf Digest the same fate is likely for 2021.
For the second straight year, the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open appears likely to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple sources tell Golf Digest. An official announcement on the fate of the tournament, scheduled for June 10-13 at St. George’s Golf & Country Club in Toronto, is expected within weeks.
“The tour doesn’t want an empty week and would like [the tournament] to happen, but they understand [the situation],” a source familiar with ongoing discussions said.
Current border restrictions between the U.S. and Canada would make it difficult to get players, caddies and other personnel needed into the country, with a two-week quarantine currently required for anyone crossing the border. Even if those at the tournament were granted an exemption from quarantine, there are other logistical and financial challenges that would make holding the tournament unfeasible, according to sources, particularly without fans being allowed to attend.
ScoreGolf in Canada first reported the likelihood of cancellation on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the city of Toronto extended a cancellation of major in-person gatherings until July 1, including Canada Day celebrations, because of coronavirus concerns. That cancellation includes city-led and city-permitted major outdoor events. Though the RBC Canadian Open is a private event, it would receive little, if any, assistance from city coffers, according to a source.
The Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Blue Jays have already temporarily relocated to the U.S. in response to the coronavirus, while the NHL’s seven Canadian franchises have been grouped into an all-Canadian division as a way to limit travel between the two countries.
“We are aware of the city of Toronto’s decision to cancel permits for large-scale public events through July 1 of 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” a spokesperson for PGA Tour said when contacted by Golf Digest. “We respect the city of Toronto’s decision as health and safety in the communities we play remains our No. 1 priority. With the 2021 RBC Canadian Open being in the window of the city’s canceled permits, we are working with our partners RBC and Golf Canada to determine the best course of action.”
There have been conversations about the possibility of moving the Canadian Open into the U.S. or to another date on the calendar, but doing either would create other complications, a source said.
Instead, it is expected the tournament will return to St. George’s in 2022. Doing so also likely would mean a better field than one expected this year—the U.S. Open is slated for Torrey Pines outside San Diego the week after the 2021 Canadian Open, while next year’s U.S. Open will take place at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., just a short plane ride away. St. George’s is also scheduled to host the Canadian Open in 2024.
The RBC Canadian Open is the third-oldest continuously running tournament on the PGA Tour behind only the Open Championship and the U.S. Open. It has been played every year since 1904, except for four years during World War I, another two during World War II and last year because of the pandemic.
When the event is played again, Rory McIlroy will be the defending champion, having won the tournament when it was last held in 2019 at Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Ancaster, Ontario.