British Open canceled as golf jostles its schedule

Ireland's Shane Lowry walks with his umbrella on the 6th green during the final round of the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, Sunday, July 21, 2019.(AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Ireland's Shane Lowry during the final round of the British Open Golf Championships at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, Sunday, July 21, 2019. –AP Photo/Peter Morrison

The 149th British Open, golf’s oldest major championship, was canceled Monday by the R&A, which conducts the tournament. Citing the coronavirus pandemic, officials said that the event, which was scheduled to begin July 16, will be rescheduled for July 15-18, 2021, and return to the southeastern coast of England at Royal St. George’s, the course that had been slated to host this year’s tournament.

The cancellation came less than an hour before announced changes to two of the three other men’s golf major tournaments. The Masters, typically the first major to be contested, was rescheduled to be held Nov. 9-15.

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“We hope the anticipation of staging the tournament brings a moment of joy to the Augusta community and those who love the game,” Fred Ridley, chairman of Augusta National, said in a statement.

The PGA of America said it would move the PGA Championship to Aug. 3-9 in addition to pushing the Ryder Cup to late September. The U.S. Men’s Open is still expected to be rescheduled for later this year. Three of the five women’s majors have been postponed in recent weeks, with the U.S. Golf Association having last week announced the postponement of the Women’s Open to December.

The championship is the only one of golf’s four 2020 men’s major tournaments to be canceled. The R&A said the event, first contested in 1860, was delayed until 2021 based on guidance from government officials and health authorities in Britain. It is the first time since World War II in the 1940s that the tournament has not been held.

“Our absolute priority is to protect the health and safety of the fans, players, officials, volunteers and staff involved,” said Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A. “We care deeply about this historic championship and have made this decision with a heavy heart. We appreciate that this will be disappointing for a great many people around the world, but this pandemic is severely affecting the U.K. and we have to act responsibly. It is the right thing to do.

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The 150th Open will be played at St. Andrews on July 14-17, 2022.

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