HOUSTON — For this most unusual year, the Houston Open gets its old spot back one week before the Masters.
Augusta National picked Nov. 12-15 as the best date to move the Masters, postponed from this week because of the coronavirus. That week on the schedule previously belonged to the Houston Open, which now is scheduled to go a week earlier on Nov. 2-8.
“The Masters has their rescheduled dates, and the change places our tournament as the premier tournament to once again be played the week prior,” said Giles Kibbe, president of the Houston Astros Golf Foundation.
The Houston Open, previously run by the Houston Golf Association, took a risk in 2007 by moving a week before the Masters. It paid off a year later when Augusta National changed its criteria to invite all PGA Tour winners, making the Houston Open the last chance to get into the Masters.
The tournament was relegated to the fall when it lost longtime sponsor Shell, and the week before the Masters was given to the Valero Texas Open.
Even for this year, it won’t necessarily be like old times.
Assuming golf resumes this year, Augusta National has indicated that players who already have earned invitations will play in November. Players who win PGA Tour events when golf resumes are expected to get invitations to next year’s Masters.
The Houston Open moves to Memorial Park, a public course, after years at the Golf Club of Houston.
Golfers keep trying to find creative ways to stay busy. Whether it’s helping with homework, finding creative uses of the internet to practice social distancing or showing off their skills, watching them waste time is at least entertaining.
This is the week in golf that wasn’t:
OK, let’s start with all the trick shots …
Jason Scrivener gets credit for the bank shot in the garage
Arbaham Ancer traveled all around his house for these.
Adam Mates has made this a daily thing.
The trick shot video that just gets better and better 👏
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) April 1, 2020
And then there is Rory McIlroy.
Meanwhile, the Wake Forest women’s golf team found a way to both practice social distancing and show off all at the same time.
Poor Justin Thomas caught the attention of Fox broadcaster Joe Buck. Poor, JT.
You’re a legend Joe. And also so bored that you will commentate on my hairline issues. Well done, sir! https://t.co/HeK8bDIaPb
— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) March 28, 2020
Uh, what is Justin Rose doing, exactly? His kids are wondering the same thing.
Leo – Dad, can you please stop that annoying noise every time you stand up?! 🏋🏻🌺 pic.twitter.com/QOEqRHw177
— Justin ROSE (@JustinRose99) March 30, 2020
Rose in a more comfortable setting, letting his game stand front and center instead of his physique.
Over at Cristie Kerr’s house, if the kids don’t behave, they have to drop and give you 20.
Bubba Watson getting some science homework done.
— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) March 26, 2020
Lexi Thompson went a little wide right here. But she has time to get it right before the LPGA season resumes.
In a conference call with major league sports commissioners on Saturday, President Donald Trump said he believes the NFL season should start on time in September, sources familiar with the call told ESPN.
Trump also said he hopes to have fans back in stadiums and arenas by August and September, sources said, although it is currently unclear if medical experts find that to be a realistic timeline amid the current coronavirus pandemic.
“I want fans back in the arenas,” Trump said later in a briefing at the White House. “I think it’s … whenever we’re ready. As soon as we can, obviously. And the fans want to be back, too. They want to see basketball and baseball and football and hockey. They want to see their sports. They want to go out onto the golf courses and breathe nice, clean, beautiful fresh air.”
Trump declined to give an exact date when reporters asked when he anticipates fans returning to arenas, saying, “No, I can’t tell you a date, but I think it’s going to be sooner rather than later.”
He also said he told the commissioners that he recognizes “the good work being done by many teams and players” to care for their communities and fan bases dealing with the outbreak.
California Governor Gavin Newsom addressed whether he believed that the NFL season would open in August or September with 80,000 fans, telling reporters Saturday, “I’m not anticipating that happening in this state.”
“It’s interesting, I have a lot of friends that work in Major League Baseball and in the NFL, they’ve been asking me — in fact, a well-known athlete just asked me, a football player, if he expects to come back. I said, ‘I would move very cautiously in that expectation,'” Newsom said.
“So look, I’m not here to second-guess anybody, but I am here to say this, our decision on that basis, at least here in the state of California, will be determined by the facts, will be determined by the health experts, will be determined by our capacity to meet this moment, bend the curve and have the appropriate community surveillance and testing to confidently determine whether that’s appropriate. And right now I’m just focused on the immediate, but that’s not something I anticipate happening in the next few months.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver told those on the call with Trump that the leagues were the first to shut down and that they would love to lead the way in restarting the economy once there is an “all clear” from public health officials, sources familiar with the call told ESPN.
The NBA was the first league to suspend play, on March 11.
On the call, Trump raised the idea of the leagues working together to lobby for tax incentives that used to exist for entertainment expenses, such as the ability to deduct concessions and tickets from taxes, sources said. That could be a way for leagues to jump-start fans’ ability to return to stadiums in a difficult economy.
The call included major sports commissioners and top executives from the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, NHL, Major League Soccer, WNBA, WWE, the PGA Tour, LPGA, UFC, NASCAR, IndyCar and Breeders’ Cup, according to a White House pool report.
“…They wanna get back; they gotta get back,” Trump told reporters. “They can’t do this. Their sports weren’t designed for it; the whole concept of our nation wasn’t designed for it. We’re gonna have to get back. We wanna get back soon, very soon.”
National Women’s Soccer League commissioner Lisa Baird was not included in the call, and that league was not pleased.
“As a leader in women’s professional sports, the NWSL would welcome the chance to participate in any future discussions between the top sports leagues in the U.S. and the White House,” the league said.
Trump also took to Twitter on Saturday to reassure Little League baseball players that their season will resume soon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The U.S. Women’s Open has been postponed to December, the USGA announced Friday.
The event had been scheduled for June 4-7 at Champions Golf Club in Houston, but it will now be played Dec. 10-13 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
That would be the latest a major championship is played and the first time an official LPGA Tour event was held entirely in December since Maria Hjorth won the LPGA Tour Championship in 2010.
“The USGA remains committed to hosting the U.S. Women’s Open in 2020,” USGA CEO Mike Davis said in a statement. “We are grateful to the LPGA and our broadcast partner FOX for their terrific collaboration in finding a new date for the championship. Our priority remains ensuring the safety of all involved with the U.S. Women’s Open, while still providing the world’s best players the opportunity to compete this year.”
With the reduced amount of daylight available in December, the event will be played on two courses. The Jackrabbit Course will join the Cypress Creek Course for Rounds 1 and 2.
The USGA said qualifying is expected to be rescheduled, with those changes still to be finalized.
The LPGA also announced changes to the next five events on its calendar, which includes the U.S. Women’s Open. Four tournaments are being rescheduled for later in 2020, and one event was canceled.
The changes means the next event — for now — would be the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship from June 19-21, followed by the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship outside Philadelphia.
Still unknown is whether that is feasible, especially for perhaps the most global sports league, with prominent members stretched around the world. LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said even if it were healthy to resume, with or without fans, he would not want to start unless at least 75% of his players were willing or able to travel and compete.
“If we don’t play golf in the summer, a wraparound [season] becomes a real option,” Whan said.
The LPGA also announced one additional event that has been rescheduled for later in 2020. The Kia Classic, previously postponed in March, will now be held Sept. 24-27 in Carlsbad, California.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The organizations that run the major championships along with the PGA Tour and European Tour are working collaboratively to put together a late summer/fall schedule in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nothing is official, and the various entities appear to be waiting on a decision from the R&A, which runs The Open and is still considering a postponement or even cancellation of the world’s oldest tournament, currently set for July 16-19 at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England.
Once that decision is made, there will be clarity on where the various events can be slotted, with Golfweek reporting that the Ryder Cup still could be played in its late September slot (Sept 25-27) with the Masters potentially being played in November. A source told ESPN that the PGA Championship is eyeing an early August date, with the Wyndham Championship and FedEx Cup playoffs to follow.
“The intent is to have clarity soon,” Craig Annis, the United States Golf Association’s chief brand officer told ESPN on Thursday. “People are dealing with a lot of challenging things financially, health-wise and as much as they are excited about golf, we know where their priorities are. The more we can figure out about what the future might look like and plan for that, the better off everyone will be.”
Annis said the USGA is faced with a difficult decision regarding the U.S. Open, scheduled for June 18-21 at Winged Foot in suburban New York.
“The likelihood decreases every day to have the tournament at Winged Foot in June,” Annis said. “We’re going to be making a decision by nearly next week as to whether or not we postpone. And then obviously working together with our broadcast partners, the PGA Tour and other organizing bodies to figure out when other viable spots will be open.
“And that’s all going to inform our decision next week. Trying to figure out when or if there has to be postponements. And cancellations. Also what makes sense from a broadcast perspective, those are all the things we’re working on now. Ideally we’ll get to a place where we can share a same view.”
The R&A decision appears to be key.
Golfweek, citing sources, said the likely date for a rescheduled Open would be Sept. 17-20 at Royal St. George’s — the week before the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. If The Open decides to cancel — which is being considered — that date would then be a possibility for the U.S. Open, still at Winged Foot.
Should The Open take that date, then the U.S. Open might be looking at a later timeslot — thus pushing the Masters into November, which Golfweek reported could be Nov. 12-15. And if the U.S. Open goes later, Annis acknowledged that could mean looking at other venues, specifically in the West to better utilize daylight hours.
“Safety absolutely comes first,” Annis said. “If you look back a couple of weeks ago, we stopped the build at Winged Foot when the CDC recommended no more than 50 people in one place. Doesn’t that seem like a long time ago? We didn’t want to put any people who were coming on-site at risk. And all of that will dictate whether or not we pivot from June to another date.
“And what dictates where [it is held] is when that other date is. If it’s in the window of the early part of fall and we’re in the Northeast, and assuming that all of the health and safety considerations are right, you could have it at Winged Foot in the fall. If it goes deeper into the fall, that is going [to have] us look at other locations.
“All of this is linked to agronomy, climate, weather, daylight. When we play the U.S. Open [in June], it’s almost peak daylight. When you move away from that, you have to factor that in as well. We have 156 players, how do you get them around? All of these things come together and they are all factors that we are considering.”
Annis did not name any venues, but Golfweek reported that California courses Pebble Beach — which held the 2019 U.S. Open — and Torrey Pines, where the U.S. Open is scheduled in 2021 — are possibilities.
As for the PGA Championship, which has been postponed from its May date at Harding Park in San Francisco, a source told ESPN that Aug. 6-9 is being considered, a week now occupied by the Wyndham Championship. The Wyndham, Northern Trust, BMW Championship and Tour Championship would all potentially move back a week, with the “season-ending” event in Atlanta played over Labor Day weekend. It is unclear if the PGA Tour would end its schedule then and begin a 2020-21 season afterward.
So far, events on the schedule are canceled or postponed through the PGA Championship in May, with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial and the Rocket Mortgage Championship in late May expected to be canceled or postponed.
The PGA Tour, which loses millions from lost television and sponsorship revenue each week, has told players that it will do all it can to add spots to fields and even add opposite events where possible when the schedule resumes. For example, the Memorial, scheduled for June 4-7, would increase its field from 120 to 144 players if it goes on as scheduled.
Because the Olympic golf tournament was canceled, and without the U.S. Open and The Open in July, it would give the PGA Tour flexibility to add events during those times.
Whenever the authorities allow sports to resume, the tour will be keen to add as many events as possible through the fall, and will have to work out the logistics of having the possibility of just one major championship in this season and potentially more than four in the next one.
“Clearly there is a high degree of collaborating,” Annis said. “Whenever golf can be played in a way that is safe for players, for fans and for all involved … everyone is eager to get back out there. But at the same time, we’re taking guidance from all the various agencies and government officials and frankly they are telling us in the near future nothing is going to happen. And for good reason. A lot of the discussion centers around what it will look like with a unified view.”
The 2020 Open Championship scheduled for Royal St. George’s in July will be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Golf Digest.
The decision comes in the wake of the Wimbledon tennis tournament being canceled earlier Wednesday, a development the Royal and Ancient, the group that organizes The Open, was waiting on before going ahead with its plan to scuttle The Open for the first time since World War II.
Scheduled for July 16-19 in Sandwich, England, the tournament will be canceled rather than postponed because the R&A can collect an insurance premium if it cancels by a certain date, according to Golf Digest. The Masters, scheduled for next week, and the PGA Championship, scheduled for next month, have announced postponements, but no future dates.
The PGA Tour has canceled or postponed nine events with tournaments in late May.
Golf Digest reported that it is not expected that The Open would be staged at Royal St. George’s next year, which would have created an issue for the R&A. The organization for several years has been planning a 150th Open celebration at the home of golf in St. Andrews, Scotland, in 2021.
The Open is scheduled for the Old Course at St. Andrews next year, followed by Royal Liverpool in 2022 and Royal Troon in 2023.
A decision on the U.S. Open, scheduled for June 18-21 at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York, is expected by the middle of April.