LPGA banks on British Open after losing first major to virus


Paris (AFP)

LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan said he felt "pretty sure" the Women's British Open could go ahead in August despite France's Evian Championship becoming the first women's golf major to be lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The British Open at Troon in Scotland is due to be played from August 20-23, with players arriving in Britain for the Scottish Open, co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour, in North Berwick a week earlier.

The Evian Championship, one of five women's majors, had already been rescheduled from July 23-26 to August 6-9.

But on Tuesday it was shelved until 2021 because of continuing uncertainty over travel restrictions for the 120-strong international field and several hundred support staff.

"Unfortunately, we didn't have a later date. We had already moved Evian back once and the rest of our calendar is pretty well spoken for," said Whan, who recently announced plans for the LPGA Tour to resume at the Marathon Classic in Ohio on July 23.

"I give (Evian) a lot of credit. They battled until the end. We had a lot of different formats being discussed: small footprints, no fans, minimal impact," Whan said on a video posted on the LPGA Tour website.

"But when you talk about players, families and caddies coming from 50 or 60 different countries, we just weren't sure we would be able to get them in to put on a major that wasn't hampered by the border-crossing issues."

"We do, however, feel pretty good about being able to go to the UK," he added.

"So, while we can't go to France and play Evian, it doesn't mean that our entire European swing is cancelled."

Organisers had earlier cited the large number of players having to travel to France as the biggest factor in cancelling this year's Evian Championship.

"The ongoing uncertainty concerning the opening of borders, in particular with Asia and the USA, poses a major risk," a statement said.

Men's professional golf will make its return on Thursday, without spectators but with a star-studded field led by world number one Rory McIlroy, at the PGA Tour's Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas.

The European Tour has announced a six-event "UK Swing" to begin with the British Masters on July 22, and the Asian Tour is planning to restart in September.