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What now for golf in 2020?

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The Masters and PGA Championship have been postponed indefinitely with the US Open and British Open expected to follow suit, while the coronavirus pandemic has prompted three of the five women’s majors to be rescheduled with tour action suspended until late May at the earliest.

AFP Sport looks at what happens next for golf in 2020.

Woods v Mickelson showdown up next?

With the leading men’s and women’s tours across the US and Europe on hold for the next two months, a rematch of the November 2018 one-on-one showdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson could be the next event on the golf calendar.

Reports indicate NFL greats Tom Brady and Peyton Manning could feature alongside Woods and Mickelson in a two-on-two sequel. Mickelson defeated his longtime rival in a winner-takes-all $9 million pay-per-view event dubbed “The Match” staged in Las Vegas two years ago.

The event would be played on a course without spectators, only a small crew to televise it, and each of the four sports stars would follow social distancing guidelines, with Golf.com saying the course would be an unspecified Florida venue.

The encounter would help raise money for coronavirus relief efforts, but it still requires approval from the US PGA Tour, which controls players’ media and television rights.

Ryder Cup reshuffle on the cards?

Europe captain Padraig Harrington believes the Ryder Cup, planned for September 25-27 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, should go ahead as planned even if it is the first competition to be played after the shutdown.

“In many ways it would be perfect if the Ryder Cup was the first tournament back. Just 12 guys from Europe and 12 guys from America, with no prize money at stake and competing just for the glory,” Harrington told the Daily Mail.

“Wouldn’t that be a nice way for the sport to start back?”

Harrington also said he would prefer to pick 12 players and do away with qualifying rather than delay the event.

However Paul Casey, a member of the winning Europe team in France in 2018, has called for the tournament to be put back 12 months, while Paris hero Tommy Fleetwood conceded it would be “fairer in qualification terms” were the event played in 2021.

Postponing the Ryder Cup could aid with schedule congestion and would also see it revent to odd years — as was the case before the biennial match was postponed by 12 months in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks on the United States. The Presidents Cup could then shift to even years as a knock-on effect.

Major revamp to accommodate major backlog?
The postponement of the Masters on March 13 set in motion a domino effect that has forced organisers to put next month’s US PGA Championship on hold, as well as find new dates for at least three women’s majors — the Evian Championship, ANA Inspiration and US Women’s Open.

American reports earlier this week said the men’s 120th US Open, slated for June 18-21 at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York, was also likely to be put back until later in the summer.

The course was closed last week, since when the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States has passed 270,000, over 100,000 of them in New York state.

The Masters, which was due to start on April 9 at Augusta, could reportedly be held in the week of November 9, and the PGA Championship — postponed from May — could be slotted in at Harding Park in San Francisco in August.

A decision on the fate of the British Open is expected within days, although it is highly unlikely the competition could be held later than September due to the weather. A delay until next year would also impact plans to hold the 150th edition at St Andrews.

The women’s ANA Inspiration at Rancho Mirage, California was due to have taken place this weekend but was postponed until September, while the Evian Championship in France has been moved from its original July 23-26 slot to August 6-9.

The USGA moved the women’s US open from June to December, leaving only the PGA (June 25-28) and British Open (August 20-23) in their original time slots for now.

Agence France-Presse