Golf tournament organizers announced a series of major schedule changes Monday due to the spread of the coronavirus, including canceling the British Open and rescheduling the Masters, the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship.
“It is with a heavy heart that we have to cancel The Open for the first time since WWII,” the official Twitter account for the British Open, golf’s oldest tournament, said on Monday.
“We appreciate that this will be disappointing for a great many people but we have to act responsibly during this pandemic and it is the right thing to do,” the tweet continued.
The Open is the first major for men’s golf to be canceled.
It was one of a series of changes in golf’s calendar announced Monday. The sport’s most iconic U.S. tournament, the Masters, said it was postponing the Augusta, Ga.,-based competition from April to November.
“We have identified Nov 9-15 as the intended dates to host the 2020 Masters. We hope the anticipation of staging the Tournament brings a moment of joy to the Augusta community and those who love the game,” Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Fred Ridley said in a statement on Twitter.
The U.S. Open, which had been scheduled in June at Mamaroneck, N.Y., has been rescheduled to Sept. 17 to 20.
The PGA of America announced that the PGA Championship, originally scheduled for May, is now set to be played August 3 to 9. The biennial men’s golf tournament the Ryder Cup, which features a U.S. team competing against a European team, remains unchanged, and is still scheduled for September 22 to 27.
The 149th British Open was scheduled to be played July 12 to 19 at Sandwich, Kent, England. The tournament, one of men’s golf’s four major champions, will now be played July 11 to 19 in 2021, according to a statement by the R&A, the governing body of the sport outside the U.S.
“I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year but it is not going to be possible,” said Martin Slumbers, the chief executive of the R&A.
The 150th Open will also be pushed back a year and is now scheduled to be played at St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland from July 10 to 17 in 2022.
Golf is far from the only sporting competition that’s been forced to cancel or postpone events because of the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, the organizers of Wimbledon canceled the London-based tennis tournament because of concerns over COVID-19.
The last golf tournament to be played in the U.S., the Players Championship in Ponte Verda Beach, Fla., was canceled after playing just one round last month.