The Masters, one of golf’s four majors, has become the latest sporting event postponed due to coronavirus fears. (AP: David J. Phillip, File photo)
The Masters, which brings together the world’s best golfers in April for the year’s first major, has been postponed because of concerns about coronavirus, according to Augusta National Golf Club.
- The Masters tournament was first played in 1934, and has only missed three years in the 1940s due to World War II
- Augusta National Golf Club, the permanent home of The Masters, normally closes from late May to October to protect the course from summer heat
- News of the tournament’s postponement comes after the PGA Tour called off the Player’s Championship and all tour events leading up to The Masters
People from all over the world attend The Masters at Augusta National, which this year was scheduled for April 9-12, and the club said it hoped the postponement would allow it to host the event safely at a later date.
“Unfortunately, the ever-increasing risks associated with the widespread coronavirus COVID-19 have led us to a decision that undoubtedly will be disappointing to many, although I am confident is appropriate under these unique circumstances,” Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said in a statement.
“I’m bummed,” world number four Justin Thomas said at TPC Sawgrass.
“Selfishly I want to play, but this is way, way beyond that. You have to take a lot of other factors and measures into consideration here.”
The Masters has been played continuously since its inception in 1934 — except during World War II when it was cancelled from 1943-45.
If it is held later this year, it would mark the first time it has been played outside March or April.
Augusta National, the only permanent home for one of golf’s four majors, typically closes in late May to protect the course from the Georgia summer heat and does not reopen until October.
“That’s my favourite tournament of the year, so I obviously have hopes that we’ll get to play it,” Thomas said.
“I don’t care if it’s 25 degrees and nobody is there, I’m going to go play it with a chance to win The Masters.”
Ridley also said the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the three-pronged junior skills competition known as the Drive, Chip and Putt competition, which all lead into The Masters, have also been postponed.
The Masters tweet: Statement from Chairman Ridley: “Considering the latest information and expert analysis, we have decided at this time to postpone @TheMasters, @anwagolf and @DriveChipPutt National Finals.”
“Ultimately, the health and wellbeing of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision,” Ridley said.
“We hope this postponement puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters Tournament and our amateur events at some later date.”
Tiger Woods may not have the chance to defend his title this year, after the decision to postpone The Masters. (AP: David J. Phillip)
Tiger Woods is the defending Masters champion after snapping an 11-year wait for his 15th major title when he came from behind to win by one shot last April.
“Postponed is a comforting word. Cancelled is another,” Xander Schauffele, who tied for second place at last year’s Masters, said at TPC Sawgrass.
“As long as it says postponed, I think the players will find hope in that word and just wait for go time.”