While Masters officials and golfers are hopeful the major championship will take place this year, Jack Nicklaus has his doubts. The annual major championship, held the first week of April, was postponed on Friday because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Nicklaus, a six-time winner of the green jacket, believes it will be difficult to find a date. He told ESPN on Friday the only time it will be suitable for the club is in the fall.
“In all practicality, they are postponing, but I can’t see any way they would play it at a later date,” Nicklaus said. “How in the world could they work it into the schedule? It wouldn’t be fair to any other tournaments that are later. I think we are probably going to miss the Masters this year, that’s just my opinion, but I think it makes logical sense.”
Nicklaus Consulted About Masters
Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley consulted Nicklaus, who is also a member of the exclusive private club in Georgia. Ridley made the announcement in a statement on Friday that the tournament would not be played in April.
“Ultimately, the health and well-being of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision,” Ridley said. “We hope this postponement puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters Tournament and our amateur events at some later date.”
Nicklaus said shortly after Ridley’s announcement that it was the correct action to take.
“I don’t think anybody wants to go to Augusta and get sick. There’s people coming from all over the world and the chances of people bringing something are great.”
There has only been one interruption of the Masters since its inception in 1934. That happened in 1943-1945, when the tournament was canceled because of World War II.
What Date is Best for Masters?
Nine days before the postponement, Ridley issued a memo saying the tournament would continue as planned. That was despite professional sports organizations, such as the NBA and NHL, canceling their seasons. When the coronavirus became a crisis in the US, Ridley had no choice but to postpone.
Ridley hopes to put on the event later in the year. When, though, is the challenge. The club closes in late May for the summer, and the oppressive heat and humidity of those three to four months is not desirable.
Augusta National opens in mid-October, but by then, the PGA Tour’s fall portion of the 2020-21 schedule begins. If the schedule is similar to last year’s, the only open date would be the second week of November. The tournament could be held between the WGC-HSBC Champions and the Mayakoba Golf Classic. There is an open date the week of Thanksgiving, but that would probably interfere with the club’s celebration of the holiday.
Ridley said that he and the club will monitor the situation, but have no firm plans on a future date.
“We recognize this decision will affect many people, including our loyal patrons,” Ridley said. “Your patience as we make every effort to communicate effectively and efficiently is appreciated. We will share any additional information as soon as it becomes available.”