Reluctantly, the USGA announced the cancellation of another four amateur national championships, leaving just four on the schedule for 2020 as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to disrupt the major amateur golf calendar.
"We went into this trying to do everything we could to crown every champion that we could," said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships.
Instead, 10 of the 14 USGA championships have now been cancelled. The latest: the U.S. Mid-Amateur, the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur, the U.S. Senior, and the U.S. Women's Senior.
The USGA previously announced the cancellation of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball, U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Senior Women’s Open, U.S. Girls' Junior and U.S. Junior Amateur.
What remains on the schedule are the USGA's four oldest national championships: the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women's Amateur, all started in 1895; and the U.S. Women's Open, first played in 1946.
Both Opens were rescheduled from their original dates, with the men moving to September and the women moving to December.
All USGA qualifying cancelled
The USGA also announced that all qualifying for the four remaining championships has been cancelled as well. Instead, each field will be comprised entirely of exempt players.
This means that each Open will not truly be "open" in 2020. The complete list of exemption categories will be worked out (importantly, there will be exemptions for amateurs).
"This is a decision that was exceptionally difficult", said Bodenhamer. "The openness of our championships is our DNA—10,000 people following their dream."
"We take great pride in the fact that many thousands typically enter to pursue their dream of qualifying for a USGA championship and we deeply regret that they will not have that opportunity this year. But this structure provides the best path forward for us to conduct these championships in 2020."
Ultimately, the challenge of hosting qualifying in 50 states, as well as foreign countries, each of whom faces a different set of restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, combined with the strain on golf courses and associations caused by the shutdown, forced the USGA's hand.
Not that they didn't try their hardest, deliberating for eight weeks.
"We turned over every stone we could. We looked at every scenario. Getting to where we got was a long, difficult journey," said Bodenhamer. "What we’re up against with the health and safety of those who host our championships and those who play in them, we just felt we had no choice."
ABOUT THE U.S. Amateur
The U.S. Amateur, the oldest USGA
championship, was first played in 1895 at
Newport Golf Club in Rhode Island. The
which has no age restriction, is open to
with a Handicap Index of 2.4 or lower. It is
of 14 national championships conducted
annually by the USGA, 10 of which are
for amateurs. It is the pre-eminent
competition in the world.
Applications are typically placed online in the spring
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