The latest domino to fall in the sports world as it pertains to the coronavirus outbreak is perhaps the biggest as it pertains to golf.
On Friday morning, Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Fred Ridley released a statement announcing the the tournament, originally scheduled to take place April 9-12, would be postponed.
“On Wednesday, March 4, we issued a memo stating that our plans to host the Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals had not changed,” the club’s statement began. “Unfortunately, the ever-increasing risks associated with the widespread Coronavirus COVID-19 have led us to a decision that undoubtedly will be disappointing to many, although I am confident is appropriate under these unique circumstances.
“Considering the latest information and expert analysis, we have decided at this time to postpone the Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals.
Statement from Chairman Ridley:
— The Masters (@TheMasters) March 13, 2020
“Ultimately, the health and well-being of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision. We hope this postponement puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters Tournament and our amateur events at some later date.
“We will continue to work with the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Office of the Governor, the Georgia Department of Public Health, the City of Augusta and all other local authorities.
“We are grateful to all of these entities for their exceptional efforts and guidance. We recognize this decision will affect many people, including our loyal patrons. Your patience as we make every effort to communicate effectively and efficiently is appreciated, and we will share any additional information as soon as it becomes available. Updates also will be posted to our website, Masters.com.
“As COVID-19 continues to impact the lives of people everywhere, we seek your understanding of this decision and know you share our concern given these trying times. Thank you for your faithful support.”
Should The Masters be scheduled for a later date this year, it would mark the first time the tournament would be played outside of March or April.
Adding to the intrigue of when the event could be played, especially considering the recommendation made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday evening, is that the club typically closes the golf course to its members from late May through October to avoid the Georgia heat.
This all but guarantees that if the Masters is to be played in 2020, it would have to be held in the fall. A fall date will be difficult to maneuver as well given September’s Ryder Cup matches and the PGA Tour’s wraparound season.
At least for Justin Thomas, whenever the club decides to host the event — if it does — he’ll be there to compete.
“I’m bummed,” Thomas said on Friday. “Selfishly, I want to play, but this is way, way beyond that. You have to take a lot of other factors and measures into consideration here, and the safety and health of everybody else involved in the tournament is the No. 1 priority. I know they don’t want to cancel or postpone it, and they know we don’t want them to do that, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing we can do about it, and that’s just the reality right now.
“I hope that we’ll get to play it. I don’t care if it’s 25 degrees and nobody is there. I’m going to go play it with a chance to win the Masters.”