A look back at the main events and announcements in the golfing world following the cancellation of The Players Championship on March 12, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic; Ryder Cup postponed and major wins for Dustin Johnson and a beefed-up Bryson DeChambeau
Last Updated: 11/03/21 6:55am
After the cancellation of The Players Championship due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 12, 2020, golf went into hibernation before re-emerging with some thrilling action on the course.
Here, we take a look back at the main events and announcements since PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan called a halt following the first round at TPC Sawgrass last year.
The cancellation of The Players Championship sparked a wave of further tournament cancellations on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Masters, scheduled for early April, was postponed until a later date, with the European Tour cancelling the Andalucia Masters, GolfSixes and Made In Denmark.
On March 20, the world rankings were frozen indefinitely, with the standings in both the men’s and women’s game staying as they were until further notice.
The WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin at the end of March was another big tournament to fall by the wayside as golf, and the world, were put on hold due to the pandemic.
On the domestic front, on March 24, golf’s administrative bodies across the UK all issued statements ordering golf courses to be closed to help combat the spread of the coronavirus as the country went into lockdown.
April started with the R&A announcing the postponement of the Curtis Cup until 2021, with the big call following on April 6. That was when R&A chief-executive Martin Slumbers revealed The 149th Open would not be played at Royal St George’s in July and would instead be played at the same venue in 2021.
A new worldwide schedule was revealed at the same time by all the main governing bodies with the other three men’s majors in new dates from August onwards. The Ryder Cup remained on course to be held in its allotted week in late September.
The LPGA had announced the rescheduling of a number of events for later in the year a few days earlier.
The gloom started to lift a little on May 10 when The Government announced golf courses in England would be able to reopen as lockdown restrictions began to ease.
There was also some welcome action on the course as Hyun Kyung Park won the KLPGA Championship title on May 17, as women’s golf returned in South Korea.
The same day saw the return of televised golf on Sky Sports with Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson beating Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in the TaylorMade Driving Relief charity skins match at Seminole.
There was more charity action a week later when Tiger Woods teamed up with Peyton Manning to defeat Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in The Match: Champions for Charity.
More green shoots of recovery emerged on May 28 with the European Tour’s announcement of the resumption of its season in July with a six-event UK Swing also launched.
The PGA Tour was the centre of attention as the action returned on June 11 with the Charles Schwab Challenge entertaining live-action-starved sports fans throughout the world.
The tournament at Colonial Country Club in Texas saw Daniel Berger defeat Collin Morikawa at the first play-off hole, but it was Bryson DeChambeau, who tied for third, who grabbed most of the headlines as he displayed his new beefed-up physique.
Webb Simpson took the honours the following week at the RBC Heritage and it was the turn of Johnson at the Travelers Championship at the end of the month.
There were a number of positive Covid-19 tests at the latter tournament but it went ahead as scheduled.
Back in England, the Rose Ladies Series provided some much-needed domestic action with Charley Hull defeating Liz Young in a play-off in the first event of the series at Brockenhurst Manor Golf Club on June 18.
The Staysure Tour confirmed its entire 2020 season had been cancelled with officials for the European Senior tour blaming the “complexities of staging events across multiple territories”.
The Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit generated more headlines for DeChambeau as he claimed a three-shot victory In the first PGA Tour event of the month, with Morikawa winning the Workday Charity Open the following week.
The European Tour made a low-key resumption with the Austrian Open which was won by Scotland’s Marc Warren, with Frenchman Joel Stalter claiming the Euram Bank Open title in Austria the following week.
Off the course, the expected announcement that the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits would not be played in September and would be postponed for a year was made on July 8.
One man destined to be in Europe’s Ryder Cup team is Jon Rahm and he became the first Spaniard since Seve Ballesteros to reach the world No 1 position after winning The Memorial by three strokes on July 19, the day The Open should have finished.
There was also a reminder of the worldwide situation the same day when Jack Nicklaus confirmed he and his wife Barbara both tested positive for coronavirus during the early part of the pandemic.
The European Tour’s return ramped up a gear on July 22 with the British Masters hosted by Lee Westwood at Close House in Northumberland, with Italian Renato Paratore securing the first prize.
World Golf Championship action returned with the St Jude Invitational on July 30 with Justin Thomas claiming a three-shot victory on August 2 which elevated him back to the world No 1 spot.
That same day also saw the completion of the first LPGA tournament since February as Danielle Kang won the LPGA Drive on Championship at Inverness Club in Ohio.
The UK Swing continued at Forest of Arden as Sam Horsfield captured the Hero Open title, while it was the turn of Andy Sullivan to triumph in the English Championship at Hanbury Manor the following week.
The latter tournament was overshadowed by the long-awaited first major of the year in the shape of the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco and it was 23-year-old Morikawa who took centre stage as he secured his first major victory – at only the second attempt – with a final-round 64 sealing the win.
Off the course, there was a reminder that these tournaments were being played behind closed doors with the announcement that The Masters in November would go ahead without patrons lining the course.
American Kang completed a quickfire double when she won the Marathon LPGA Classic, while there was a dramatic ending to the Rose Ladies Series when the three-day Grand Final was cancelled due to wildfires near Wentworth, with Hull finishing top of the order of merit.
Horsfield notched his second win of the month in the Celtic Classic at Celtic Manor, while American Stacy Lewis prevailed in the Ladies Scottish Open.
The FedEx Cup Playoffs kicked off with The Northern Trust at TPC Boston and it featured a dominant performance by Johnson as he romped to an 11-shot victory to regain the world No 1 spot and go top of the FedEx Cup standings.
The Women’s British Open at Royal Troon provided a major shock with world No 304 Sophia Popov of Germany winning by two shots.
The UK Championship at The Belfry at the end of the month saw Denmark’s Rasmus Hojgaard, 19, edge out Justin Walters in a play-off but there was even more drama in the BMW Championship in Chicago.
Johnson holed a 45-foot to force a play-off with Rahm and it was then the Spaniard’s turn as he drained a sensational 66-foot putt for a birdie at the first extra hole to win the second event of the Playoffs.
August 31 saw McIlroy become a father for the first time as his wife Erica gave birth to daughter Poppy Kennedy.
The Tour Championship at East Lake brought the curtain down on the disrupted PGA Tour season with Johnson managing to complete his fine season by lifting the FedEx Cup and $15m prize as he held his nerve for a three-shot victory over Xander Schauffele and Thomas.
Attention then turned to the delayed US Open at Winged Foot where DeChambeau’s work on increasing his power was rewarded with his first major success as he romped to a five-shot victory over Wolff.
There was also a first major success for South Korea’s Mirim Lee as she birdied the first play-off hole to edge out Brooke Henderson and Nelly Korda in the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills.
The following week saw England’s Georgia Hall pick up her first LPGA Tour win in the USA by defeating Ashleigh Buhai in a play-off at the Portland Classic.
Two players claimed their first European Tour victories with American John Catlin claiming the Andalucia Masters title and South African Garrick Higgo prevailing at the Open de Portugal. Catlin quickly doubled his tally by winning the Irish Open at the end of the month.
The European Tour was back in the UK in October with Aaron Rai winning the Scottish Open and Adrian Otaegui taking the honours at the Scottish Championship.
These two events sandwiched the flagship BMW PGA Championship which saw Tyrrell Hatton claim a four-shot victory over Victor Perez at Wentworth. It was also a fourth Rolex Series success for Hatton.
The Italian Open then provided Ross McGowan with his first victory for 11 years, while there were further European wins on the PGA Tour as Sergio Garcia won the Sanderson Farms Championship and Scotland’s Martin Laird claimed the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open title in Las Vegas.
The month started on the LPGA Tour with another first-time English success as Mel Reid followed on from Hall with a two-shot win in the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
There was also a reminder of the problems still facing the sport on a global basis as the Australian Open was cancelled for the first time since World War Two due to coronavirus, with the Australian PGA also called off, along with the New Zealand Open.
The month started with golf courses closed once again as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a second lockdown, but at least there was the prospect of The Masters for golf fans to watch on Sky Sports.
Despite the lack of patrons, the action at Augusta National did not disappoint with Dustin Johnson eventually pulling clear with an awesome performance to prevail by five shots and set a new Masters scoring record at 20 under.
The two European Tour events in Cyprus saw Callum Shinkwin and Robert MacIntyre confirm their promise with maiden wins and there was also a first success for Joachim B Hansen as the action moved on to South Africa.
Emily Kristine Pedersen was the star of the show on the Ladies European Tour as the Dane became the first player to win three successive events since 1989, following up back-to-back wins in Saudi Arabia with a four-stroke victory at the Andalucia Costa del Sol Open de Espana.
Golf courses in England were allowed to reopen from December 2 as the second national lockdown ended, but there would be announcement before the end of the month that they would close again from January 4 in response to the rapid rise in transmission rates of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Norway’s Viktor Hovland, 23, became the fifth European player since 1945 to claim multiple PGA Tour victories with his second success at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
South Korea’s A Lim Kim, playing her first event in the United States, birdied the final three holes to claim a shock win at the US Women’s Open in Houston.
France’s Antoine Rozner secured a maiden European Tour title with a two-stroke victory at the Golf in Dubai Championship.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout was in dominant form in South Africa as he followed up his Alfred Dunhill Championship win in November with a five-shot victory at the South African Open.
Matt Fitzpatrick ended the year on a high with a one-shot win at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai as Lee Westwood finished runner-up to pip Patrick Reed to the Race to Dubai title, the 47-year-old Englishman lifting the Harry Vardon Trophy for a third time.
Woods played alongside his 11-year-old son Charlie at a two-day exhibition event in Orlando on December 19-20, with the pair finishing seventh overall.
The PGA Tour kicked off the year with its double-header in Hawaii as Harris English won the Sentry Tournament of Champions and Kevin Na took the Sony Open crown.
Woods announced he had undergone a fifth back surgery and was not putting a timescale on his return to action as he focused on his recovery.
The West Coast Swing saw Si Woo Kim win The American Express with Reed prevailing by five shots at the Farmers Insurance Open.
After firing a 60 in the third round, Jessica Korda holed a long birdie putt at the first play-off hole to claim victory over long-time leader Kang at the LPGA Tournament of Champions.
The European Tour resumed with the Abu Dhabi Championship where Hatton won by four shots as third-round leader McIlroy dropped to third as his wait for his first victory since November 2019 continued.
Paul Casey made it back-to-back victories for Englishmen at the Dubai Desert Classic the following week.
The Desert Swing continued with the Saudi International with Johnson jetting in to win the tournament for the second time in three years.
Brooks Koepka returned to winning ways at the Phoenix Open where there was also the welcome return of crowds as 5,000 spectators were allowed into TPC Scottsdale each day.
Berger claimed the Pebble Beach Pro-Am title and Max Homa triumphed at the Genesis Invitational, beating Tony Finau in a play-off.
The latter event in Los Angeles was quickly overshadowed on February 23 when tournament-host Woods suffered multiple leg injuries in a car crash.
On February 22, Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed the roadmap out of lockdown in England with golf courses set to be allowed to reopen on March 29.
The 2021 World Golf Championship events kicked off with the Workday Championship at The Concession which was won by Morikawa, while Nelly Korda followed on from her sister by winning the Gainbridge LPGA.
DeChambeau returned to winning ways at the Arnold Palmer Invitational as McIlroy dropped outside the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time in three years.
On March 11 the action is back at TPC Sawgrass with the first round of the 2021 Players Championship…
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