The blazer-wearing, starched white shirt and striped tie crowd up there at USGA headquarters can’t be feeling all that great about now.
They’ve seen The Players end after one round, saw The Masters basically WD from the major lineup then they witnessed the PGA Of America followed Augusta National’s lead and call off the 2020 PGA Championship.
Now all eyes are on the USGA as we count down to the scheduled 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. First round play is slated for Thursday, June 18 but those of us who have followed the U.S. Open over the years know that they have those wonderfully democratic “qualifiers” at the local and sectional levels.
Those may not happen. Most of us who played competitive golf in our younger days have gone to the “local” qualifiers. They used to be 36-holes back in the day, now they’re just 18 leaving the 36-hole stint to the sectionals.
The USGA has already called off some of its 2020 competitions.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball was to be the USGA’s first championship of the year. It was set to be played April 25-29 at Quail Creek Country Club in Naples, Fla. The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball was scheduled for May 23-27 at Philadelphia (Pa.) Cricket Club.
Local qualifiers for a trip to Winged Foot, were slated for April 27-May 12 at 109 sites in 45 states and Canada. Final qualifying was scheduled to be conducted in nine U.S. locations, plus Canada, Japan and England. One U.S. site for final qualifying, in Texas, was scheduled for May 18, while the qualifier in England was May 25. The rest are supposed to be held June 8. The U.S. Open is June 18-21.
What happens to all of those is totally uncertain at this time.
Ditto for the Women’s U.S. Open.
Qualifiers for the U.S. Women’s Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston were supposed to be held April 21-May 14 at 25 locations. The 75th U.S. Women’s Open is June 4-7.
The USGA has been weighing its options for days. USGA CEO Mike Davis issued a statement late Monday after the CDC recommended that events of 50 or more people should not be conducted for the next eight weeks.
Davis made this “official” statement:
“The USGA has been carefully monitoring all information available regarding the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 and remains focused on the health and safety of the USGA community, including our staff, players, officials, volunteers and spectators. We have established an internal task force and are communicating on a regular basis with our peers in the golf community and the broader sports world as information on this evolving issue continues to be shared.”
Simple translation: “We have no clue if we can pull all this off.”
As for those qualifiers, this U.S. Open, if it does happen, may have a different look to it.
“In conjunction with our Allied Golf Association (AGA) partners and International Federations, we will look to redesign qualifying going forward as events unfold,” was what the USGA said.
Simple translation: “We’re not all that sure what we’re going to do.”
What we haven’t mentioned yet is that venerable Winged Foot is located in ritzy Westchester County in New York State. It just so happens to be a coronavirus “Hotspot” and that means you don’t want to be there, basically.
Westchester had more than its fair share of positive tests for the coronavirus, leading the state government to set up a “containment area” in the city of New Rochelle. County-owned Glen Island Park is now the site of a state-run testing center where those with appointments drive up and are tested from their cars.
Sherlita Amler, county commissioner of health, said efforts like the closure of schools should be taken seriously to reduce the risk of exposure. The ultimate goal is to try to reduce the number of people needing medical attention at the same time.
And that does no bode well for an event that would bring hundreds of thousands of outsiders to Winged Foot.
No, time is not on the USGA’s side.
The place, Westchester County, is absolutely not on the USGA’s side.
At best, the 2020 U.S. Open looks like a longshot.
It’s not a bet you’d want to make.
Good luck, USGA, you’ll need it.