The LPGA Tour announced Thursday they have postponed the next three events on their 2020 LPGA Tour schedule, including the year's first major championship, as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Commissioner Mike Whan made the decision to postpone next week's Volvik Founder Cup in Phoenix, Ariz.; the Kia Classic played the following week in Carlsbad, Calif.; and the ANA Inspiration, the first of five majors on the LPGA calendar, the week after that in Palm Springs, Calif. from April 2-5.
The LPGA Tour is hopeful to reschedule all three events for later in the season. In addition, the LPGA Tour has postponed two upcoming California events for the Symetra Tour, its developmental circuit: the IOA Championship in Beaumont, Calif., from March 27-29 and the Windsor Golf Classic in Windsor, Calif., from April 2-4.
“This is a difficult situation and as we navigate these uncertain times, we appreciate the support of all those involved with the LPGA," ,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan in a statement. "I am fully committed to rescheduling these important events on our 2020 schedule, especially our first major, the ANA Inspiration.
"Our thoughts are with all of those around the world affected by this virus. And on a personal level, it pains me to see the impact of this health crisis on our athletes, our sponsors and our fans. That said, I know keeping our LPGA family safe, and all those who follow us safe, has to be my top priority. We will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation with our global health partners and are planning for different scenarios for future LPGA events should they be necessary.”
Speaking on Golf Channel, Whan said he believed the Tour could have taken the approach initially announced by the PGA Tour on Thursday afternoon, playing on without fans in attendance. In fact, earlier in the week, the LPGA insisted the upcoming events were still going on as planned. However, as the situation worsened, that ultimately wasn't a risk he was willing to take.
“I feel fairly confident that we could probably play in Phoenix, maybe we could even play Carlsbad, play without fans and keep everybody else out … but can I live with it if I’m wrong? If I’m wrong, I regret that the rest of my life,” Whan said.
“If this is a decision that’s wrong the other way, we should have played, I feel terrible about it, but I can live with that. This is a decision that I may not like but I don’t think it’s one I’ll regret.”
Now six events on the 2020 LPGA Tour schedule have been cancelled or postponed due to concerns over the coronavirus. Three events from the winter Asian swing were cancelled in response to the initial outbreak. The LPGA does hope, however, to bring these domestic events back later in the year.
What later made a public call to LPGA player sponsors, imploring them to not penalize players for potentially breaking contractual obligations by not appearing in enough LPGA Tour events.
To all sponsors who endorse @LPGA athletes. PLEASE consider disregarding # of events they play or how many times they are televised in ‘20! I know they want to play, but we are keeping them (and others) safe. Please don’t penalize them for my decisions!! Respectfully, Mike
— Michael Whan (@LPGACommish) March 13, 2020