Updated 2020 Golf Schedule: The Masters Moves to November, PGA TOUR Holding Out Hope for a Late May Return
Ben Jared, Getty Images. Pictured: Tiger Woods.
The expected shakeup in this year’s golf calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic was announced Monday, resulting in the potential for a Masters in November, the U.S. Open and Ryder Cup in back-to-back weeks and the cancelation of The Open Championship.
In a joint announcement from the PGA TOUR, European Tour, LPGA and the four governing bodies for the men’s major championships, the entities announced that they plan to host three majors, the Ryder Cup and the FedEx Cup playoffs within a 100-day span, starting with the PGA Championship on Aug. 6.
The announcement was made with the following provision: “We remain very mindful of the obstacles ahead, and each organization will continue to follow the guidance of the leading public health authorities, conducting competitions only if it is safe and responsible to do so.”
The PGA TOUR, meanwhile, is still holding out hope that it can resume its schedule on May 21 with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Ft. Worth, Tex.
Still unclear is whether these tournaments would be played with spectators in attendance, limited fields or any other social distancing-related constraints.
However, a separate announcement was issued by Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley, who stated that if given consent from health officials, “We intend to invite those professionals and amateurs who would have qualified for our original April date and welcome all existing ticket holders to enjoy the excitement of Masters week.”
The flurry of Monday morning briefings began with news from the R&A that it would cancel The Open Championship for just the first time since World War II.
Royal St. Georges, which was positioned as host course for this summer’s event, will instead be pushed back to next year, while St. Andrews will host the 150th edition of this tournament in 2022.
“We care deeply about this historic championship and have made this decision with a heavy heart,” said Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A. “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. I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year, but it is not going to be possible.”
At most, there will be only three men’s major championships held this year, the first one ostensibly being the PGA Championship, to be held at TPC Harding Park from Aug. 6-9, the date previously held by the Olympics golf competition.
Of course, this could be a moving target.
Just two days ago, California governor Gavin Newsom said of the potential for NFL games to be contested there by September, “I’m not anticipating that happening in this state.”
On the current schedule, the PGA Championship is followed by the PGA TOUR’s regular season finale, the Wyndham Championship, then each of the three FedEx Cup playoff events, all pushed back one week from their original date.
While it didn’t list any tournaments directly, the announcement stated that the PGA TOUR could return as early as a June 18 start date, which was the original date for the U.S. Open.
The U.S. Open will, for now, be pushed back three months, beginning on Sept. 17 and remaining at Winged Foot, despite published reports that it would no longer be contested at that venue and speculation that a December date on the West Coast was in play.
That will be immediately followed by the Ryder Cup, which remains in its original slot on the schedule, Sept. 25-27, still hosted at Whistling Straits.
All of which means that, for the first time ever, there is potential for the Masters being the final major championship on the year-long calendar.
Despite its inclusion in the joint announcements, there are no new developments for the European Tour, of which it was stated: “Due to the many complexities involved, the European Tour is currently working through various scenarios in relation to the rescheduling of our tournaments for the 2020 season.”
The LPGA, meanwhile, remains scheduled to resume June 18 at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Already, two of its majors, the ANA Inspiration and the U.S. Women’s Open, have been rescheduled to begin Sept. 10 and Dec. 10, respectively.