Golf Takes a Do-Over as the Masters Moves to November


Competitive golf’s governing bodies boldly remade the schedule of the men’s major championships and other professional events on Monday with the Masters tournament, a signature event of the American sporting calendar, moving to November because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Masters, a ritual of spring that was scheduled to be played this week at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., will now be contested from Nov. 12 to 15.

The event, one of the most watched sporting events annually, has never been played in the fall, where it could conceivably be vying for attention with a weekend full of professional and college football games, if the N.F.L. and the N.C.A.A resume their regular schedules. Fred Ridley, the chairman of Augusta National, conceded on Monday that his club’s plans were “incumbent upon favorable counsel and direction from health officials.”

Similar cautionary statements were issued by officials for the United States Open, which was rescheduled for mid-September at a course in the suburbs of New York City, and the P.G.A. Championship, which is scheduled to begin in San Francisco on Aug. 6. The British Open, the fourth men’s major, was canceled and will next be played in July 2021.

The P.G.A. Championship’s early August start date appeared to conflict with recent comments from Gov. Gavin Newsom of California about when large-scale sporting events would resume in his state. On Saturday, in response to President Trump’s assertion that the 2020 N.F.L. season could open as scheduled in early September, Newsom said, “I’m not anticipating that happening in this state.”

Seth Waugh, the chief executive of the P.G.A. of America, which conducts the P.G.A. Championship, said in a statement on Monday that his organization would “continue to follow the guidance of public health officials, but are hopeful that it will be safe and responsible to conduct the P.G.A. Championship in August.”

The tournament, to be contested at T.P.C. Harding Park, was originally scheduled to begin May 14.

The U.S. Open, which was set to begin June 18, will now be played from Sept. 17 to 20 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Westchester County, N.Y., although officials for the United States Golf Association, which hosts the tournament, seemed willing to concede that another postponement was a possibility.

“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 U.S. Open this year,” Mike Davis, the U.S.G.A. chief executive, said.

The organization has weighed contingency plans that would move the event to a location that typically has warm weather later in the year.

Officials at Augusta National, a moneyed club with an autonomous pedigree, were cautious, but they sounded the most optimistic. If health and government officials give their assent to the tournament’s taking place, Ridley said, “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 club, however, canceled the Augusta National Women’s Amateur event that was scheduled for last weekend.

The dates proposed for the Masters and the U.S. Open will put the events’ television broadcasting partners in the awkward situation of finding room in their schedules for the final round of a golf major and a Sunday full of N.F.L. games — providing either sport is hosting competitions in the fall. CBS has broadcast the Masters for decades, but also relies on televising a full slate of N.F.L. games. The same is true for Fox Sports, which has the broadcast rights to the U.S. Open. There had been suggestions that the golf majors might consider altering their customary Thursday-to-Sunday tournament format so that an event could conclude on a Friday or a Saturday instead. It was not an outcome mentioned in Monday’s announcements.

The 149th playing of the British Open, golf’s oldest major championship, was scheduled to begin July 16 this year. It has been rescheduled for July 15 to 18, 2021, and return to the southeastern coast of England at Royal St. George’s, the course that had been set to host this year’s tournament.

The championship is the only one of golf’s four 2020 men’s major tournaments to be canceled. The R&A said the event, first contested in 1860, was delayed until 2021 based on guidance from government officials and health authorities in Britain. It is the first time since World War II in the 1940s that the tournament will not been held.

“I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing the Open this year, but it is not going to be possible,” Martin Slumbers, the chief executive of the R&A, said. “There are many different considerations that go into organizing a major sporting event of this scale. We rely on the support of the emergency services, local authorities and a range of other organizations 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.”

The 150th Open will be played at St. Andrews from July 14 to 17, 2022.

The PGA Tour, which normally hosts a nearly weekly schedule of tournaments spaced around the major championships, said it would try to reschedule some of its events into the calendar spots vacated by the U.S. Open, the British Open and the Tokyo Olympics in June and July. The tour also moved several August events back a week, with the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., and the three FedExCup Playoff events now scheduled from Aug. 13 to Sept. 7.

Last week, the L.P.G.A. Tour announced that it had moved two of its women’s major championships, with the ANA Inspiration shifting to Sept. 10 and the U.S. Women’s Open now slated to begin Dec. 10.

Finally, the Ryder Cup, the biennial international competition between professional golfers from the United States and Europe, is still set to take place as it was originally scheduled, from Sept. 24 to 27 in Wisconsin.



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