In the latest wave of sporting cancellations, one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments – the Open Championship – has been lost to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Open, which is the only major played on British soil, was slated to take place at the Royal St George’s club in Kent in July, but the R&A have been left with no choice but to cancel – with no alternative dates in 2020 offered.
It is just the fourth occasion that the Open Championship has had to be cancelled, with both of the World Wars accounting for a number of postponements and the incredible story of 1871 when the tournament was cancelled because there was no trophy to be won (more on that later).
The PGA Tour has announced that the three majors to be played on American soil – the Masters, the US Open and the PGA Championship – have now been rescheduled for later in the year.
The Masters, arguably the most iconic tournament in golf, should have been taking place this week at the Augusta National club, and that has now been moved to November 12-15.
The US Open, to be hosted by Winged Foot GC in New York, has been given a proposed new date of September 17-20, and the PGA Championship – slated for TPC Harding Park in San Francisco – has been given a new August timeslot.
The Ryder Cup, as things stand, will go ahead as planned from September 25-27.
That could lead to a packed autumn/winter schedule for the players, with the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup play-offs also set for August.
|Tournament||Rescheduled Date||Original Date|
|PGA Championship||6th to 9th August 2020||14th to 17th May 2020|
|Wyndham Championship||13th to 16th August 2020||6th to 9th August 2020|
|The Northern Trust||20th to 23rd August 2020||13th to 16th August 2020|
|BMW Championship||27th to 30th August 2020||20th to 23rd August 2020|
|Tour Championship||3rd to 7th September 2020||27th to 30th August 2020|
|U.S. Open||17th to 20th September 2020||18th to 21st June 2020|
|Masters||12th to 15th November 2020||9th to 12th April 2020|
Perhaps optimistically, the PGA Tour has plans to bring back behind-closed-doors golf in June, with the Memorial Tournament – scheduled for June 4-7 – a possible curtain-raiser.
Young Tom Misses the Mark
It’s completely understandable that the Open Championship will take a back seat during the COVID-19 outbreak, as it did during the two World Wars.
But the other occasion in which the Open was cancelled, in 1871, was for reasons that can only be described as the bizarre!
The ‘culprit’ was Young Tom Morris, a multiple-time Open champion who dominated the sport in the late 1800s after following in the footsteps of his father – yep, you guessed it, Old Tom Morris.
The younger Morris was born in St Andrews, so he was always likely to be a Links golf enthusiast. And that came true in 1868 when he won the first of his Open titles at the Prestwick Golf Club, beating his father by three shots.
Young Tom also won the tournament in 1869 and 70, completing an outstanding hat-trick.
And here’s where the problems started: after his third win, Morris was allowed to keep the Challenge Belt which was awarded to the Open champion as a symbol of his achievements.
That meant that in 1871 the players had nothing to play for, and so the tournament was cancelled!
The Open Championship returned anew in 1872 with the famous Claret Jug trophy, and a new deal that saw Prestwick, Muirfield and St Andrews host the event on a rotational basis – a concept still alive today, with many more host venues in the cycle.
And so Young Tom Morris, perhaps not realising as such when he ran off with the Challenge Belt, changed the face of golf forever.