By Garrett Johnston
For the first time since World War II in 1945, the Open Championship will not be played. The R&A officially announced on Monday that because of the COVID-19 pandemic they are cancelling The Open Championship this year at Royal St. George’s in Kent, England. Originally scheduled for July 16-19, the R&A has adjusted to let St. George’s still host the 149th Open July 11-18, 2021 and has moved the much anticipated 150th Open at St. Andrews from its original 2021 slot to 2022.
Monday proved a monumental day for the entire golf season as the other governing bodies made tentative rescheduling announcements. More on that here.
But The Open Championship was the only major golf event to flat out cancel. Golf Digest first reported last week that sources had confirmed an Open Championship cancellation would happen, and evidently part of the reason was due to insurance.
“Our absolute priority is to protect the health and safety of the fans, players, officials, volunteers and staff involved in the Open,” R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said in a statement on Monday. “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.”
This is golf’s oldest championship and one that many players and former champions will miss.
“These are extraordinary times for the world and the R&A has had to look beyond golf and at the bigger picture in coming to this difficult decision,” 2018 Open champ Francesco Molinari told me.
The Italian held off Tiger Woods (in his pairing) at Carnoustie in 2018 for his first major championship.
“So, while it is disappointing not to be able to look forward to playing in The Open this summer, I think we all agree that getting this virus under control should be everyone’s top priority.
“I look forward to playing at Royal St George’s in 2021.”
Molinari’s home country is getting hit hard by the COVID-19 virus, but thankfully his manager Gorka Guillen confirmed that-to his knowledge-no one close to Francesco has yet contracted the virus.
Dustin Johnson nearly won his first major championship at Royal St. George’s in 2011, finishing with his best result in an Open Championship at T2.
“Obviously, it’s disappointing, as we all love playing the Open Championship. However, it’s understandable, given the circumstances,” Johnson told me. “The most important thing is that we keep everyone as safe as possible and hopefully stop the spread of the virus.”
Stay safe indeed.
Garrett Johnston is a golf journalist who has covered golf for over a decade and 30 major championships on site. Follow him on Twitter @JohnstonGarrett