The Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open is likely to form part of a salvage schedule for the European Tour later in the year after its postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic was confirmed yesterday.
The Scottish, due to take place at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick in the traditional slot on July 9-12 – the week before the now-cancelled Open Championship at Sandwich, is postponed while the two events immediately preceding it in the European Tour’s original 2020 schedule, the BMW International in Germany and the Open de France in Paris, have now both been cancelled.
It now means that the Tour has cancelled or postponed 14 events as a result of the worldwide crisis and the earliest possible re-start is the Betfred British Masters at Close House, Northumberland starting on July 30, although it’s thought that event will be put back as well. The tour last played at the Qatar Masters in the first week in March.
Chief Executive Keith Pelley, announcing the latest three events to be lost, underlined that it was “essential that we continue to follow the guidance of the individual national governments as we stand united in our efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus.”
“These are three prestigious tournaments but my primary message is actually one of optimism because I am genuinely hopeful that from now on the information I send you in relation to our 2020 schedule will be positive.
“We cannot emphatically commit to a start date because, as I have said many times, we will not resume until it is safe, and we are permitted to do so.
“We now have 14 weeks with no tournaments, but those three and a half months are also the time where the global situation may well begin to show signs of improvement. There are already discussions centring on the easing of restrictions in several countries and everyone is optimistic that these can continue.”
The Scottish Open has not been cancelled, and indications are that the plan is to play it if possible later in the year.
In a letter to tour members earlier in the week, Pelley had suggested that having a series of UK-based events in succession – probably the Scottish, the British Masters, the BMW PGA and the Dunhill Links – would be a way to maintain quarantine requirements without having to cross borders and invoke new 14-day isolation periods.
Pelley indicated in the letter that the UK events were also crucial to the tour’s broadcast partner Sky Sports, and should take precedence.
The European Tour’s position is in stark contrast to the PGA Tour in the USA where a provisional re-start at the Charles Schwab Challenge on June 8 followed by a full week-on-week schedule through to the Tour Championship in Atlanta in early September was released on Wednesday.
However many believe the US Tour schedule to be over-optimistic with the virus still rife in key areas of the US, and many states due to host events still under lockdown and resisting suggestions they should relax restrictions.
President Trump indicated earlier this week that he had spoken to “all the sports commissioners” and it seems that pressure is being brought to bear from the White House to get sport up and running again in the USA regardless of safety considerations.
It is notable that the two events cancelled from their original dates on the PGA Tour’s schedule within the timeframe of the new version were the two to be played outside the United States – The Open Championship and the Canadian Open.