When the 2020 golf majors could be played now that the coronavirus has forced two postponements
Will the Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open and Open Championship all tee off in 2020?
As a country, we certainly have bigger issues than sports, but in the world I exist in on a day-to-day basis, the preeminent question has been fans wondering when golf's major championships will be played. The easy answer is that there is a possibility they may not be played at all in 2020.
However, in the face of a world that was seemingly canceling everything it could get its hands on last week, the language from the good folks at Augusta National Golf Club was important.
Considering the latest information and expert analysis, we have decided at this time to postpone the Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Women's Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals.
We have decided at this time to postpone. Not cancel but postpone. The distinction here is important. Cancellation is equivalent to, "see you next year," while postponement could mean anything. Sometimes, it does mean eventual cancelation ... but not always.
Major championships have been shuffled before. The PGA Championship has previously been held in February (1971) and November (1936). And while there are more logistical roadblocks than ever to moving an event like a major to a different month of the year, it's at least possible. In light of that, here's the question I've been considering: Instead of the 2020 major season ending with the Open Championship in July, what if it starts there?
Since the first Open in 1860, major championships have only been canceled for three reasons. Two of those were the World Wars , and the other was -- somewhat amazingly -- because there was no trophy to hand out at the 1871 Open Championship.
But maybe that won't happen. Hopefully, it won't. Augusta National Golf Club -- which is reportedly closing this week -- certainly has contingency plans for hosting a tournament later in the year. Their advantage here is that they have both the built-in infrastructure to hold an impromptu event as well as the cache to make it happen. Everyone wants the Masters to happen. That may or may not be true of the other four majors.
The PGA Championship set for May in San Francisco, where the city is on a 24-hour lockdown, is already postponed. The U.S. Open in June -- scheduled in an area where the National Guard is currently stationed because of the coronavirus -- doesn't look much better. We don't know what England will look like in July when The Open is played at Royal St. George's, but it seems as if the best-case scenario for sports is a late-summer return, which could mean The Open is played.
If that happens -- and again, this is seemingly under the most optimistic outlook -- could you shoehorn the other three into the final five months of the year? There is the Olympics (if it's held at all) to consider in late July as well as the remainder of the PGA Tour season in August leading into the Tour Championship. Then the Ryder Cup in late September.
Here's a scenario I think could work, again, if everything settles normally late in the summer.
- Mid-July: The Open Championship
- Late July: 2020 Tokyo Olympics (?)
- Late August: Tour Championship
- Early September: PGA Championship
- Late September: Ryder Cup
- Early October: The Masters
Would this schedule be weird? Of course, but what sports schedule isn't going to be weird in 2020? Golf's governing bodies should lean into it and get as weird as possible. The PGA Championship had been held near this new proposed slot up until last year when it moved to May. I could foresee a potential problem with the PGA of America having two events (PGA Championship and Ryder Cup) so close together. That could be a logistics nightmare, but everything else will be as well.
The Masters in October would be a cornucopia of southern sports joy for Georgians and Southerners to get their favorite golf tournament jammed into their regular-scheduled college football programming.
The problem becomes what to do with the U.S. Open. The USGA already has a sensitive relationship with the good folks at Winged Foot Golf Club after what happened to the course in 2006 when Geoff Ogilvy won his only major. Could those two entities work something out for a post-Labor Day U.S. Open? It seems like, given the scenario I laid out above, this one would be the most difficult to figure out.
Too late in October, and you wouldn't be able to have a major championship in New York. Maybe you could work it into September, or perhaps the PGA Championship can't be played at all in San Francisco. Maybe early August makes sense, although with the FedEx Cup Playoffs -- which the PGA Tour surely wants to still hold -- it seems like this could be tough.
The advantage you have of going past August is that you're dealing with the PGA Tour's fall slate. There's a world in which some of these events could turn into opposite-field events to major championship weeks, and that solves a lot of your logistical issues.
At this point, we're all just making up ideas and proposing schedules that will likely never come to fruition. The hope at this point is not a specific date or weekend or month for the four biggest golf tournaments in the world. The hope, with the coronavirus bearing down on the entire world, is that the four biggest golf tournaments in the world are even played at all in 2020.
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