The golf world felt a big letdown on April 1 when, late in the evening, Golf Digest reported the R&A was cancelling the 2020 British Open Championship, which is set to be played from July 16-19 at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in England.
The Digest report said the event would be cancelled, rather than postponed, and the 2021 Open would be played at the Old Course at St. Andrews instead of moving venues up a year. Next year, the Home of Golf was to host the 150th playing of the game’s oldest major championship.
However, the R&A responded to the report on April 2 by saying they have not cancelled the championship.
“We are continuing to work through our options for The Open this year, including postponement,” said Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of the R&A, in a released statement.
“Due to a range of external factors, that process is taking some time to resolve. We are well aware of the importance of being able to give clear guidance to fans, players and everyone involved and are working to resolve this as soon as we can. We will give a further update as soon as we are in a position to do so and thank everyone for their support and understanding in this challenging situation.”
The report from Golf Digest said the cancellation was, in part, spurred by an insurance policy the R&A has that covers their costs and financial considerations even in the event of a global pandemic. When the All England Lawn and Tennis Club cancelled Wimbledon for this year, the report said, it was the signal to the R&A that they should cancel.
With the United Kingdom one of the laggards of the western world in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, and with many countries issuing travel restrictions, it could be extremely difficult for the R&A to proceed. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked golf courses to remain closed during his shelter-in-place order, which could ultimately be extended to cover the summer months.
The last time the British Open Championship wasn’t played was 1945, when the event was cancelled during World War II for six consecutive years.