By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 29/07/20 5:27pm
The 120th US Open will be played without spectators this September at Winged Foot, the USGA has confirmed.
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The tournament was originally set to be held from June 18-21 but was pushed back to September 17-20 due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the traditional qualifying also not taking place for the first time in 96 years.
Organisers had been hopeful of allowing crowds into the event in Mamaroneck, New York, although have decided that will not be possible due to ongoing health and safety concern about Covid-19.
“Following months of consultation and scenario planning with local and state health officials, we have jointly decided that hosting the U.S. Open without spectators will provide the best opportunity to conduct the championship safely for all involved,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA.
“We will miss the excitement of the fans and what their presence brings to the championship. We look forward to welcoming them again to future U.S. Opens.”
The major becomes the latest high-profile golf event to take place behind closed doors, with every PGA Tour event since their resumption on June 11 being held without crowds and the PGA Championship going ahead next month at TPC Harding Park with no fans.
“This will not be a typical U.S. Open in several respects,” said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of Championships.
“Would it have been easier to simply cancel or even move the 2020 championship rather than play it in what has been the epicenter of the virus in our country? Possibly. But all of us at the USGA know how much the U.S. Open matters.
“We weren’t willing to give up on playing it at Winged Foot Golf Club so easily. We are very proud to give our competitors and champions a platform to chase their dreams. Their perseverance motivates us, in a year when such tenacity means so much.”
Gary Woodland will return as defending champion after last year’s three-shot victory over Brooks Koepka at Pebble Beach, while refunds will be given to all patrons who had already bought a ticket.
“We have come a long way in the fight against COVID-19, and I am so proud of New Yorkers, who rose to the occasion and bent the curve,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “I am pleased to welcome the USGA for the U.S. Open Championship at Winged Foot Golf Club this September.
“While the tournament will look different this year with no fans and enhanced safety protocols, this event is a welcome sight for sports fans across the country and will help restore a sense of normalcy as we build back better than before.”