The chief executive of The Royal & Ancient Golf Club reiterated Wednesday that The Open Championship will proceed this summer but plans remain flexible and are being set with “cautious optimism,” given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are focused on staging The 149th Open at Royal St George’s from 11-18 July 2021 and on delivering a fantastic Championship for the country and the world of golf,” Martin Slumbers wrote in a message posted to the tournament website. “I would like to assure you our fans as well as our players, officials, patrons, partners, contractors and suppliers that we will do all we can to make this summer’s Championship a huge success.”
In an interview last week, Slumbers said the tournament would proceed with or without spectators at the course. This week, he struck a more optimistic tone while remaining realistic.
“We are acutely aware that this remains a difficult time for so many people and the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is causing substantial disruption to all our lives but there is growing cause for optimism with the rapid roll-out of the vaccination programme,” he wrote. “There are undoubtedly many more pressing concerns facing people at the moment but we are trying to look forward with cautious optimism.”
He continued: “With that in mind, we have been working closely with the government, our medical advisers and partner agencies as part of a rigorous scenario-planning exercise for staging The Open this year. We continue to plan for a full-scale Championship but also have robust plans in place for a reduced capacity or behind closed doors model.”
The Open, golf’s oldest major tournament, was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The PGA Championship, U.S. Open and Masters all were delayed and played without fans.
Officials at Augusta National have said the Masters will go on in April with limited spectators.
Shane Lowry of Ireland is the defending champion of The Open, winning in 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland.
–Field Level Media