The Open 2020: Organisers considering postponing event due to coronavirus

A general view of the 16th hole at the Royal St George's Golf Club in Kent
Royal St George's has hosted The Open 14 times, most recently in 2011

The Open organisers are considering postponing the 2020 Championships because of the coronavirus pandemic and hope to make a final decision soon.

The event, one of golf's four majors, is due to take place from 16-19 July at Royal St George’s in Sandwich, Kent.

In March, both the Masters and the US PGA Championship were postponed.

"We are continuing to work through our options for The Open this year, including postponement," said R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers.

He added that a "range of external factors" meant the situation was "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," said Slumbers.

"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."

The other major, the US Open, is set to be played from 18-21 June at Winged Foot in New York.

The United States Golf Association (USGA) is expected to announce a decision on staging the tournament soon.

The Open has been held every year since the tournament resumed in 1946, having not been staged between 1940 and 1945 because of World War Two.

Golf's oldest tournament, which started in 1860, was not held from 1915 to 1919 either because of World War One.

The only other previous cancellation came in 1871 when no trophy was available because Tom Morris Jr was allowed to keep the Challenge Belt for winning the tournament three times in a row.

The current prize, the Claret Jug, was introduced in 1872.

Analysis

BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter

The fragmented nature of men's golf, with four separate bodies running the majors and the two leading tours being separate entities, contributes significantly to the "external factors" holding up a definitive decision.

Competing television deals, and the uncertainty of how long the pandemic will last, adds to the confusion.

The R&A is desperate for the 149th Open to be played this year because St Andrews has been earmarked for a massive celebration of the 150th edition at the home of golf in 2021.

But it is difficult to know when the separate bodies that run the Masters and US PGA will announce rescheduled dates for their already postponed majors.

The R&A is unlikely to be able to hold the championship in July so The Open seems certain to be caught in calendar crossfire for dates later in the year.

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