Dubai: The golfing world is coming to terms with the very real prospect of there being no major tournaments this year.
News emerged on Tuesday that the PGA Championship had gone the way of the Masters and fallen victim to the coronavirus, and has been postponed indefinitely.
Last week, as sporting events across the globe were dropping like flies, it was announced that the year’s first golfing major at Augusta - which was due to be held from April 9 at the famous Georgia course — would be put on hold. Now the PGA has followed suit.
The event was scheduled for May 11-17 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
“Postponement is the best decision for all involved,” said PGA of America chief executive officer Seth Waugh.
“Throughout our evaluation process, we have been committed to following the guidance of public health authorities.
“This is a reflection of a thoughtful process. We are and have been working in concert with [PGA Tour] commissioner Jay Monahan and our partners and friends at the PGA Tour to find an alternative date that works for all. We are all very hopeful for a great outcome.
“We are also in dialogue with [San Francisco] Mayor [London] Breed and her team and look forward to hopefully bringing the 2020 PGA Championship to TPC Harding Park at a date this summer when it is safe and responsible to do so.”
After some serious shake-ups on the PGA and European Tour schedules last year, the four majors - the Masters, PGA, US Open and Open Championship — are now contested over a four-month period between April and July.
In a nasty twist of fate, such a move may now mean we could miss out on all four of the world’s top golfing tournaments as the coronavirus pandemic shows little sign of abating any time soon.
The US Open at Winged Foot is set to begin on June 18 and the Open Championship is set to follow at Royal St Gerorge’s in Kent from July 16. Both could be postponed any day now.
Of course, public health is the top priority and 200,000-plus spectators in one place over a weekend is inconceivable. How the majors could find a place on the calendar later in the year is a logistical and legal minefield.
Such is the nature of the golfing season and its global reach there is rarely a free week on either the PGA or European tours out of the 52 available.
Should the virus clear over the summer months, how will the powers that be decide when to shoehorn in four more events - and the biggest ones on the calendar at that?
The PGA Tour ends at the end of August, but should it be decided that we make space for - say - the Masters in October, how do you simply inform the unlucky souls in charge of the Spanish Open or Portugal Masters that their event is getting bumped?
And that is before you look at the financial and legal implications of having to recompense those who will inevitably have to suffer, should the majors ever get the green light on a rescheduled date.
Seven European Tour events are already cancelled or postponed and the PGA has announced that the RBC Heritage, Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Wells Fargo Championship and the Byron Nelson event are all to join the six already on hold.
There are simply too many events to fit in now and more will join them on the pending list before things get any better.
American golf will not be played before May 18 at the earliest and Europe will not see action before the end of April. Even the most optimistic of organisers will be preparing for those dates to be pushed back further.
The Open at Sandwich in July is meant to be the 149th edition in its 160-year history (only two world wars and an odd occasion in 1871 when there was no trophy - I have no idea either — have prevented one of sport’s oldest existing events from taking place).
As I said, no majors in 2020 is a very real prospect — a major disaster if you will — and it is a very sad, but necessary situation.