New Tour schedule aims to play Ryder Cup in 2020: After weeks of daily conference calls during a frantic bid to rescue a season crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic, golf’s governing bodies are on the brink of unveiling a replacement schedule that might see a minimum of three major championships — including the Masters in November — and therefore the Ryder Cup contested this year.
The details of the ambitious revised schedule were outlined to Golfweek by three people on the brink of the discussions, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity since they’re not authorized to deal with the matter publicly.
The planned joint announcement of a replacement schedule has been delayed while the R&A decides if the 149th Open Championship — slated for July 16-19 at Royal St. George’s in England — is going to be postponed or canceled entirely. A rescheduled Open would happen at an equivalent venue from Sept. 17-20 — only one week before the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. If the R&A opts to cancel, that slot on the calendar could see the U.S. Open played at Winged Foot.
“At now, we aren’t during a position to verify any specific dates. While we are hopeful that we’ll be ready to conduct the U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club in June, it’s increasingly likely that we’ll get to postpone,” said Craig Annis, the USGA’s chief brand officer. “We are working with our broadcast partner Fox Sports, the PGA Tour, and other golf organizations to work out what a viable postponement date might be should we’d like to form that call. We are currently considering a variety of options and expect to be during a position to announce a choice by next week.”
One of those options under consideration: holding the U.S. Open later within the year on the West Coast. The USGA has had initial conversations with two potential venues in California: Torrey Pines near San Diego, which has long been in line to host the Open in ’21, and Pebble Beach, where the ’19 edition was played. Annis acknowledged conversations are underway with several alternate venues and didn’t rule out a move west.
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“Depending on how far out we’d need to go it could mean that we’d like to seek out a replacement location. If we get beyond September we might get to find a U.S. Open-ready course during a place with the proper climate and agronomics, considerately to available daylight,” he said. “We are fortunate to possess a variety of USGA host site partners who we are engaging with to work out viability.”
Both Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach have multiple courses on the property — a key consideration in getting a full field around for the primary two rounds with limited daylight (Pinehurst in North Carolina has also been mooted, though that’s considered unlikely.). “Certainly if we had to postpone and if we moved to a squeeze the late fall, we might potentially need two courses if the dimensions of the sector remain an equivalent,” Annis conceded. “The traditional timing of the U.S. Open allows us to figure with maximum daylight. Any move faraway from that might provide daylight challenges for us that we might get to address and playing on two courses might be how to resolve that challenge.”
The Masters, which was thanks to beginning next week at Augusta National Golf Club, is tentatively penciled certain the week of Nov. 9, consistent with two people with knowledge of the present planning who spoke on condition of anonymity because they’re not authorized to talk publicly. And what was for therefore a few years the last major of the season is now getting to be the first: the PGA Championship is going to be scheduled for Aug. 6-9 at Harding Park in San Francisco.
“Glory’s First Shot” is going to be followed by the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship then three FedEx Cup playoff events, culminating with the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta on Labor Day weekend. Early talks included possibly restaging the Players Championship, which was abandoned after only one round last month, but the Tour’s flagship event won’t now be a part of the new lineup. As things stand, only the Ryder Cup is going to be played on its original dates.
It’s unclear whether the Tour would seek to start its 2020-21 wraparound season as was common after the Tour Championship. An announcement on a replacement LPGA Tour schedule could come as early as in the week, while the impact of the revised calendar on the ECU Tour remains uncertain.
While any refreshed schedule would obviously be subject to vary — and complete cancellation, given the rapidly expanding coronavirus crisis — the timeframe targeted to resume the PGA Tour season in mid-June. that would potentially allow the Tour to use the four weeks vacated by the Olympics and therefore the U.S. and British hospitable stage tournaments that were previously postponed. Events currently rostered for that summer period — just like the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto, the Travelers Championship in Hartford, Conn., and therefore the WGC-St. Jude Invitational in Memphis, Tenn. — might be impacted, either to facilitate the playing of other stops or due to local conditions.
Another uncertain element is television, with networks faced with finding slots to broadcast golf at a time once they have commitments to other sports (assuming some normalcy has returned to the sporting calendar by then). NBC, CBS, Fox, and ESPN all have obligations with the NFL, college football, Premier League soccer and NASCAR, among others. that would mean, for instance, that more U.S. Open coverage is aired on Fox Sports 1 instead of Fox’s main network. Fox is contractually obliged to air the championship on its main channel only it’s played in its traditional June date.