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Major changes: an autumn Masters, while the US Open and Ryder Cup go back-to-back due to coronavirus chaos

Golf reschedules big-hitting tournaments in face of pandemic crisis

The Masters has been put back from April to November. AFP
The Masters has been put back from April to November. AFP

A Masters among the autumn leaves and the US Open and Ryder Cup on back-to-back weeks ... golf has reshuffled its schedules due to the coronavirus crisis.

Moments after the 149th British Open was postponed until 2021, golf's Major tournament organisers and tours issued a joint statement announcing a revamped lineup of dates as a result of postponements due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The US PGA Championship, which had been postponed from May, was rescheduled for August 6-9 and remains at Harding Park in San Francisco.

The US Open was rescheduled from June to September 17-20 with the Ryder Cup to be contested one week later at Whistling Straits as scheduled.

The Masters, which was to have been played this week among the blooming spring flowers at Augusta National, has been rescheduled for November 12-15. It was postponed on March 13.

"We hope the anticipation of staging the Masters tournament in the fall brings a moment of joy to the Augusta community and all those who love the sport," Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said.

Organisers emphasised that the new dates depend upon safe conditions for players and spectators in the wake of the virus outbreak.

The US PGA Tour rebooked its regular-season finale, the Wyndham Championship, for August 13-16 with the season-ending tour play-offs to follow over the next three weeks, concluding with the Tour Championship in Atlanta on September 4-7.

"We want to reiterate that Augusta National Golf Club, European Tour, LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour, The R&A and USGA collectively value the health and well-being of everyone within the game of golf and beyond, above all else," the statement said.

The Masters will be played, Covid-19 permitting, outside of April for the first time in the event's history, which began in 1934.

Another Masters will be scheduled in its usual date for April 2021, making the Augusta National classic the last major of 2020 and the first of 2021.

"We look forward to the championship returning in full strength next spring," Ridley said.

The same field of players that would have competed this week at the Masters will be used for the November date, which comes only a few weeks after the course reopens following summer closure.

"We want to emphasise that our future plans are incumbent upon favourable counsel and direction from health officials," Ridley said.

"As such, we continue to keep in close contact with local, state and national health authorities to help inform our decisions."

The Augusta National Women's Amateur, an event that began last year, was cancelled for 2020 but each woman who accepted an invitation to the event will be invited to compete in 2021, provided she remains an amateur.

The US Open moved back more than three months in hope that conditions in the New York area, the epicentre of the US pandemic outbreak, will be better in late September.

"We are hopeful that postponing the championship will offer us the opportunity to mitigate health and safety issues while still providing us with the best opportunity to conduct the US Open this year," US Golf Association chief executive Mike Davis said.

"We are incredibly thankful to the membership and staff at Winged Foot for their flexibility and support."

PGA of America chief executive Seth Waugh said his major, now set to be the first of the year, should help in the global recovery from isolating measures to safeguard people from the virus.

"Sports, and particularly the game of golf, are important vehicles for healing and hope," Waugh said.

"We will continue to follow the guidance of public health officials, but are hopeful that it will be safe and responsible to conduct the PGA Championship in August and the Ryder Cup as planned."

Updated: April 7, 2020 07:13 AM

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