2020 Open Championship proceeding as scheduled as R&A explores contingency plans

March 19, 2020
Shane Lowry celebrates after winning British Open.

As of now the 2020 Open Championship will be played as scheduled, the R&A said Thursday, but contingency options are being examined in the face of the global coronavirus outbreak.

The year’s final major is scheduled for July 16-19 at Royal St. George’s in England. The season’s first two majors — the Masters in April and the PGA Championship in May — have been postponed, while the USGA said Tuesday that the U.S. Open in June remains as scheduled.

“We are undertaking a comprehensive evaluation of our plans to stage the 149th Open at Royal St George’s and the AIG Women’s British Open at Royal Troon, which are four and five months away respectively,” the statement said. “This includes examining a range of scenarios for staging the championships, with our focus on proceeding as planned, as well as considering other contingency options available to us.”

The R&A did cancel two amateur events on Thursday — the R&A Student Tour Series Final and the R&A Girls’ U16 Amateur Championship, both scheduled for April — and said it would continue to review the rest of their amateur schedule.

“Our absolute priority is to ensure the safety of players, fans, officials, staff and all involved in our championships and that will be at the forefront of our thinking as we monitor developments,” said Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A.

“We have some time before we start building the infrastructure at both venues and so we are keeping the scheduled dates in place for the Open and AIG Women’s British Open at this point. We recognize that this is a rapidly changing situation, and we will keep everyone informed of any changes to our plans. These are difficult times, but we are bearing in mind our responsibility for what’s right for golf and most importantly for society.”

British Open defending champion Shane Lowry told London’s Daily Express on Thursday that he was uncertain the tournament would be played.

“Golf-wise my big concern, and with the continuing postponing and canceling of tournaments, is whether the Open Championship will go ahead, Lowry said. “Naturally, I would be very disappointed if the Open was to be canceled, but then in the bigger picture, the organizing bodies are reacting very professionally to the crisis and we will be guided by their advice.”

Lowry did put a positive spin on the situation.

“I guess if they do call off the Open, I will get to be Open champion for two years and I will have to go celebrating again,” Lowry told the Express.

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