The Open cancelled; Masters, US Open & US PGA Championship rescheduled

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 149th Open Championship has been cancelled but 2020's three other men's majors have been rescheduled because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The Masters has been put back from April to November, while the US PGA Championship is slated for August.

The US Open, at Winged Foot, New York, is being moved from June to September, a week before the Ryder Cup.

The Open, due to take place in July at Royal St George's in Kent, will now be hosted by the venue in 2021.

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said: "We have explored every option for playing The Open this year but it is not going to be possible."

However, all three of the majors hosted on American soil each year are still hoping to go ahead. And the Ryder Cup - the biennial event that pitches Europe's finest golfers against their American counterparts - is being kept in its late September slot.

  • Watch - The Masters 2019: Tiger Roars Again (Sunday 12 April, 17:00 BST, BBC2)

Major dates for 2020

  • Cancelled: The Open Championship
  • 6-9 August: US PGA Championship, TPC Harding Park, San Francisco, California
  • 17-20 September: US Open, Winged Foot Golf Club, New York
  • 25-27 September: Ryder Cup, Whistling Straits, Wisconsin
  • 12-15 November: Masters, Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia

The PGA Tour's season-ending FedExCup Play-offs are scheduled to take place on four successive weekends, with the first from 13-16 August.

A joint statement, issued by Augusta National Golf Club, European Tour, LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour, the R&A and USGA said: "We remain very mindful of the obstacles ahead, and each organisation will continue to follow the guidance of the leading public health authorities, conducting competitions only if it is safe and responsible to do so."

In the women's game, the LPGA Tour has moved two of its five annual majors. The ANA Inspiration has been pushed back to 10-13 September at Mission Hills, California, while the US Women's Open switches to 10-13 December at Champions Golf Club in Texas.

Of the three other majors, The Evian Championship in France, switched from a July date to 6-9 August, while the Women's PGA Championship in Pennsylvania (25-28 June), and Women's British Open at Royal Troon in Scotland (20-23 August) are still going ahead as scheduled.

'Open decision made with a heavy heart'

It is the first time The Open has been cancelled since the 1940-45 tournaments were not played because of World War Two.

The 149th Open will now be played at Royal St George's in Sandwich from 11-18 July 2021, meaning the R&A can keep the 150th Open at St Andrews in Scotland, from 10-17 July 2022.

The R&A said all tickets bought for this year's tournament will be transferred to next year's event, with full refunds for those people who are no longer able to attend.

BBC Sport understands that the R&A had pandemic insurance cover, which should significantly reduce the financial losses from the cancellation.

In a statement on the R&A website, Slumbers added: "We care deeply about this historic Championship and have made this decision with a heavy heart.

"We appreciate that this will be disappointing for a great many people around the world but we have to act responsibly during this pandemic and it is the right thing to do.

"We rely on the support of the emergency services, local authorities and a range of other organisations to stage the Championship and it would be unreasonable to place any additional demands on them when they have far more urgent priorities to deal with."

People's health and safety come before golf - Lowry

Ireland's Shane Lowry, who won last year's Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, tweeted:external-link "Obviously I'm disappointed that I won't get to defend the Open Championship this year but I feel the R&A have made the right decisions based on people's health and safety. See you all in Royal St George's in 2021."

And England's Danny Willett, who won the 2016 Masters, told BBC Radio 5 Live; "Postponement or cancellations is something that we have become accustomed to until everyone is safe and safe to do our sport. It is a shame but there are things bigger than golf at the moment."

Royal St George's has hosted The Open 14 times, most recently in 2011, when Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke won for the first time.

The Open, which started in 1860, was also previously not held from 1915 to 1919 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 Claret Jug, the prize for the champion golfer of the year, was introduced in 1872.

Analysis

BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter

A golfing year without The Open is hard to imagine but staging the 149th championship in the current situation was always going to be a tall order. Work to erect the temporary infrastructure to house about 200,000 spectators during Open week is a massive undertaking.

By delaying a year and pushing St Andrews back to 2022, the 150th Open will still be played at the venue known as the home of golf.

It is a big "if" but if the new schedule plays out as now intended, men's golf will have a blockbuster spell between August and November.

The prospect of the US Open and Ryder Cup in consecutive weeks in September will capture the imagination of golf fans everywhere.

But the new schedule means that among the biggest tournaments only the PGA Championship can have a material effect on the make up of the European and American teams.

Staging major international events as early as August seems optimistic, indeed the most likely of these tournaments to actually be played is a November Masters.

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