AAP Golf

Open gone, Masters set for November

By AAP Newswire

This year's British Open has been cancelled, with the Masters now set for November as golf organisations wrestled to save a season ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Open, the oldest championship of them all, won't be played for the first time since 1945.

In the revamped schedule, the Masters goes from that annual rite of spring to two weeks before Thanksgiving while the US Open will be held in September for the first time since amateur Francis Ouimet took down Britain's best at Brookline in 1913 to put golf on the map in America.

The PGA Championship, which last year moved to May, will go back to August. That will be followed by the PGA Tour's post-season, the US Open and Ryder Cup in consecutive weeks, and then the Masters on November 12-15.

"Any Masters is better than no Masters," Augusta native Charles Howell III said.

Still to be determined was when - or even if - golf could resume because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down sports worldwide.

Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley said the Masters identified November as "intended dates."

CEO Seth Waugh said the PGA of America was "holding" August 6-9 as dates for the PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco.

USGA chief Mike Davis said moving from June to September was the best chance to mitigate health and safety concerns - Winged Foot is five miles from New Rochelle, New York, a virus hot spot - to have "the best opportunity" of staging the US Open.

The British Open effectively is pushing its schedule back one year, saying the 149th Open is still set for Royal St George's on July 15-18, leaving the 150th Open for St Andrews the following year.

"I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year, but it is not going to be possible," R&A chief Martin Slumbers said.

Golf's major organisations, starting with the PGA Tour and its calendar filled with tournaments, have been trying to piece together a puzzle for the last three weeks. Each agreed to announce their plans together in a show of collaboration.

The PGA Tour has tentatively planned to complete its FedEx Cup season close to schedule, with the Tour Championship finishing on Labor Day. It is contemplating putting tournaments in dates that previously belonged to the US Open, British Open and Olympics.

It was not immediately clear how the teams from Europe and the United States would be determined for the Ryder Cup.

For the 24 players, that means going from what long has been regarded as the toughest test in golf to what has become the most tiresome three days in golf.

"It's definitely better than leaving the Tour Championship and going to France, or leaving the Bahamas to go to Australia," said Patrick Cantlay, referring to the Americans' most recent Ryder and Presidents cup itineraries.

As for the British Open, Shane Lowry gets to keep the claret jug longer than anyone since Dick Burton, who won in 1939 at St Andrews in the last Open before World War II.

The new schedule:

- Aug. 6-9: PGA Championship.

- Aug. 13-16: End of PGA Tour regular season at Wyndham Championship.

- Aug. 20-23: Start of FedEx Cup playoffs at The Northern Trust.

- Aug. 27-30: BMW Championship, second playoff event.

- Sept. 4-7: Tour Championship for the FedEx Cup.

- Sept. 17-20: U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

- Sept. 25-27: Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.