Augusta National Golf Club, seen down Magnolia Lane, is well manicured on what would have been the first practice round for the Masters golf tournament, on Monday in Augusta, Georgia. The 2020 Masters, postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, is slated to take place Nov. 12-15. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Augusta National Golf Club, seen down Magnolia Lane, is well manicured on what would have been the first practice round for the Masters golf tournament, on Monday in Augusta, Georgia. The 2020 Masters, postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, is slated to take place Nov. 12-15. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Pandemic forces sweeping changes in golf world

The British Open has been canceled, and the Masters will take place in November.

  • Tuesday, April 7, 2020 1:53am
  • Sports

The Masters goes from that annual rite of spring to two weeks before Thanksgiving. The U.S. Open now is scheduled in September for the first time since amateur Francis Ouimet took down Britain’s best at Brookline in 1913 to put golf on the map in America.

And the oldest championship of them all won’t even be played.

Golf organizations tried to salvage a season unlike any other Monday with a series of changes, starting with the British Open being canceled for the first time since 1945. The PGA Championship, which last year moved to May, would go back to August. That would be followed by the PGA Tour’s postseason, the U.S. Open and Ryder Cup in consecutive weeks, and then the Masters on Nov. 12-15.

“Any Masters is better than no Masters,” Augusta native Charles Howell III said.

Still to be determined was when — or even if — golf could resume because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down sports worldwide.

Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley said the Masters identified November as “intended dates.” CEO Seth Waugh said the PGA of America was “holding” Aug. 6-9 as dates for the PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco. USGA chief Mike Davis said moving from June to September was the best chance to mitigate health and safety concerns — Winged Foot is 5 miles from New Rochelle, New York, a virus hot spot — to have “the best opportunity” of staging the U.S. Open.

The British Open effectively is pushing its schedule back one year, saying the 149th Open still is set for Royal St. George’s on July 15-18, leaving the 150th Open for St. Andrews the following year.

“I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year, but it is not going to be possible,” R&A chief Martin Slumbers said.

Golf’s major organizations, starting with the PGA Tour and its calendar filled with tournaments, have been trying to piece together a puzzle for the last three weeks. Each agreed to announce their plans together in a show of collaboration.

Still missing is the starting line, along with some details on what could be the most hectic pace golf has ever known.

“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,” Ridley said. “We want to emphasize that our future plans are incumbent upon favorable counsel and direction from health officials.”

Augusta National closed early this year because of the coronavirus and does not open until October. The bloom of dogwoods and azaleas will give way to fall foliage. Instead of being the second full week in April, it will compete against football.

“It feels like in these extraordinary times, we need to do extraordinary things,” said Kevin Kisner, who grew up 20 miles away in Aiken, South Carolina. “We can sacrifice a little bit of our life being perfect.”

The PGA Tour has tentatively planned to complete its FedEx Cup season close to schedule, with the Tour Championship finishing on Labor Day. It is contemplating putting tournaments in dates that previously belonged to the U.S. Open, British Open and Olympics.

“It’s a complex situation, and we want to balance the commitments to our various partners with playing opportunities for our members — while providing compelling competition to our fans,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said. “But all of that must be done while navigating the unprecedented global crisis that is impacting every single one of us.”

The new schedule:

■ Aug. 6-9: PGA Championship.

■ Aug. 13-16: End of PGA Tour regular season at Wyndham Championship.

■ Aug. 20-23: Start of FedEx Cup playoffs at The Northern Trust.

■ Aug. 27-30: BMW Championship, second playoff event.

■ Sept. 4-7: Tour Championship for the FedEx Cup.

■ Sept. 17-20: U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

■ Sept. 25-27: Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

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