First the Masters, now the PGA Championship.
Two days after a federal recommendation to not hold events of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks, the PGA of America decided to postpone the second major of the year, which was set for May 14-17 at Harding Park in San Francisco.
The PGA Championship will be rescheduled. Augusta National announced Friday that the Masters, scheduled for April 9-12, also would be played at a later day.
“We’re all working hard to get a date that makes sense for the championship and hopefully for Harding Park,” Seth Waugh, CEO of the PGA of America, said in a telephone interview. “Our intent is to hold the championship as close to normal, whatever that is anymore.”
The new normal is no golf for the next two months because of fears over the new coronavirus.
Shortly after the PGA Championship announcement, the PGA Tour said it was canceling an additional four tournaments on its schedule – the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas.
The tour also said it was canceling three PGA Tour Champions and postponing one – the Regions Tradition, the first of five majors on the 50-and-old circuit, moves from May 7-10 to Sept. 24-27. The tour said none of its six tours, including China, Latin American and Canada, will be holding events through at least May 10.
The LPGA Tour, which previously canceled three events in Arizona and California, is not scheduled to play again until April 15 in Hawaii, followed by two more events in California.
The PGA Tour’s statement said that as the tour gets more clarity on the spread of COVID-19 in the coming weeks, it would work with tournaments, sponsors and golf organizations “to build a PGA Tour schedule for 2020 that ensures the healthy and safety for all associated with our sport, and a meaningful conclusion to the season.”
The two majors have been postponed. Next on the clock is the U.S. Open, which remains on the schedule for June 18-21 at Winged Foot, just five miles away from the coronavirus containment zone set up in New Rochelle, New York.
The USGA said the U.S. Women’s Open (June 4-7 in Houston ) and U.S. Open were going ahead as scheduled, but it canceled all the May qualifiers for those championships with hopes of designing a new system.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines on Sunday not to have events of 50 or more people for two months. The following day, San Francisco was among six Bay Area counties that issued orders for residents to go outdoors only when necessary for the next three weeks.
That seemed to doom the PGA Championship being played in May, because the end of the eight weeks is the Sunday before the championship.
Augusta National typically closes for the summer in mid-May and opens in October. The PGA Championship has more flexibility with Harding Park, a public course where golf is played all year. Waugh said the structures for the PGA Championship, such as grandstands and hospitality, were about 25% finished.
With two majors being rescheduled, another piece of the puzzle is the PGA Tour and its lucrative FedEx Cup that ends the season on Aug. 30. That was the schedule, anyway.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan already has wiped off eight tournaments from his schedule, including The Players Championship, with the richest purse in golf at $15 million.
The tour does not have an open date on its schedule through the end of the season at the Tour Championship.
“Jay has the most moving parts,” Waugh said. “It’s his players. But he is acting like a total partner. He has been incredibly open and fair. Every time he gives a date up, it’s one he doesn’t have.”
The tour said it was working with its tournaments and partners to make a “positive impact” on the communities where the events are played and allow them “to come back at full strength in 2021.”
It also said it would make available archives of past tournaments and additional programming for viewers.
Earlier Tuesday, the European Tour announced the postponement of the Andalucia Masters in the south of Spain that was to have started on April 30. It was the sixth regular event canceled or postponed on the European Tour schedule.
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