It’s becoming more and more likely the U.S. Open will be played in August or September, according to two people who have direct knowledge of ongoing discussions about tournament preparations. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
The two people noted the USGA’s desire to keep the championship at Winged Foot Golf Club unless state and local authorities deem the region unsafe.
An official announcement is expected within the next two weeks.
“We are working collaboratively with other golf organizations to determine how to proceed with the 2020 calendar of events,” USGA senior director of championship communications Beth Major said. “We’re all certainly looking forward to returning to golf, but only when it has been determined safe to do so. The top priority for each of us remains the safety and well-being with everyone involved with our championships and tournaments.”
The two indicated the USGA prefers to stay at Winged Foot, which remains eager to host, but noted it has become “increasingly doubtful” the U.S. Open will be played on the original June 18-21 dates.
Other courses have reportedly been contacted about filling in on short notice should conditions not improve. Oakmont Country Club and Pinehurst No. 2 are being discussed as alternatives, Golfweek has reported.
If conditions improved rapidly, it would only be possible to hold a scaled-back version of the championship with minimal spectators. A big factor in the decision to push ahead or postpone will be the input of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Westchester County Executive George Latimer along with the Centers for Disease Control.
The USGA did announce Friday is was delaying entries for the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Women’s Amateur, U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior until the week of April 27
Winged Foot was shut down on Sunday evening when Cuomo’s executive order to close non-essential business went into effect. All construction in advance of the U.S. Open came to a halt a week ago. Only the protective bases that provide support for major infrastructure are in place.
The USGA staffers who had been working at Winged Foot are now sheltering in place at various locations in Westchester County.
“There are multiple variables that we need to consider, including the CDC and local guidelines,” USGA chief brand officer Craig Annis said Monday in response to the closure. “We are continuing to monitor the situation and making relevant contingency plans. … We simply did not want to put anyone at risk. While construction onsite at Winged Foot has stopped for now, we are continuing to hold the dates for the U.S. Open in June and will monitor all available guidance and regulations from the CDC, WHO and other federal, state and local authorities to do what is in the best interests of the community.”
Winged Foot and all of the New York clubs impacted by the shutdown do have essential personnel at work, so the grounds crew is continuing to prep the famed West Course for U.S. Open conditions.
The coronavirus spread has already resulted in the postponement of the Masters, which had been scheduled for April 9-12 at Augusta National Golf Club, and the PGA Championship, which had been set for May 14-17 at the TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo were also postponed. The PGA Tour has canceled events through May 10.
The last cancellation of the U.S. Open was in 1945 because of World War II.
Mike Dougherty covers golf for The Journal News/lohud.com. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @lohudgolf.