All four golf Majors look likely to be pushed back

LONDON • The R&A is understood to be edging closer to a postponement of the Open Championship, amid a growing realisation that golf's oldest Major cannot be held in July at Royal St George's because of the coronavirus pandemic.

An announcement could be made following talks this week, with the organisers hopeful of rescheduling the tournament for later in the year as a backup plan.

With the Masters and PGA Championship already postponed, the US Open and the British Open are the two men's Majors left in their designated spots.

The US Open is due to start on June 18 at Winged Foot in New York and reports in the United States suggest an unsurprising postponement is imminent.

With more than 200,000 spectators due to attend the British Open, set for July 16-19, there is a rising sense Covid-19 will not have settled sufficiently for the tournament to be staged in satisfactory form for players or fans.

It also clearly falls under "mass gathering" criteria, with issues relating to international travel also pertinent, given that air travel has all but come to a stop over stringent worldwide border controls.

The R&A's contingency plans have been the topic for deep discussion at high levels in recent days.

Weather and light restrictions would theoretically leave September as the final month the British Open can be played. This year is the 149th playing of the Open, with No. 150 scheduled for the home of golf, St Andrews, next July.

With that in mind, tournament organisers are anxious to hold the Major this year as any extended schedule delays could affect Royal Liverpool and Royal Troon, which have already been confirmed as venues for 2022 and 2023.

Last Thursday, the Open's chief executive, Martin Slumbers, hinted postponement was a real possibility, saying: "Our absolute priority is to ensure the safety of players, fans, officials, staff and all involved in our championships and that'll be at the forefront of our thinking as we monitor developments."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2020, with the headline 'All four golf Majors look likely to be pushed back'. Print Edition | Subscribe