With Wimbledon done and PGA Tour scrambling, can tennis and golf be saved?

Roger Federer fist pumps after beating Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon.
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Ricky Dimon

Golf· 2 years ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Are the tennis and golf seasons lost causes in 2020? It may be too early to write them off completely, but it has not been too early to do just about everything else. Tournaments in both sports have been postponed or cancelled left and right, with Wimbledon being the latest big one to meet the chopping block. In an emergency meeting held by the All-England Lawn and Tennis Club on Wednesday, the 2020 Championships were entirely cancelled.

“It is with great regret that the Main Board of the All-England Club and the Committee of Management of The Championships have today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic,” the AELTC stated. “The 134th Championships will instead be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021.”

This marks the first time since World War II, which cancelled six consecutive Wimbledon events from 1940 through 1945, that the All-England Lawn and Tennis Club festivities will not be held.

Golf is also enduring its fair shar of unprecedented developments, including the postponement of the Masters. Previously scheduled to take place next week, it is now hoping to secure fall dates. Based on Augusta, Ga. hotel rates posted online, rumors abounded that the Masters would be moved to April. But recent reports of a dramatic rescheduling of the entire PGA Tour schedule have the quest for the green jacket on course for November.

Golf’s governing bodies appear close to unveiling a new 2020 plan, which could become official once the fate of British Open is decided. It is still scheduled for July 16-19 at Royal St. George’s in England but is widely expected to be postponed or cancelled altogether. Postponement would result in the Open Championship assuming a Sept. 17-20 spot on the calendar. That is one week before the Ryder Cup, which at the moment looks like the only golf tournament that has a chance of being unaffected by the coronavirus crisis (of course, that is obviously subject to change—and perhaps soon—based how the virus spreads). If the British Open cancels, the U.S. Open at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin could slide into the Sept. 17-20 dates. If those are not available for the U.S. Open, the USGA is considering just about every option on the table including moving the event to much later in the fall and hosting it at multiple different venues on the west coast. Daylight issues that time of year would necessitate playing on two different courses.

“Depending on how far out we might have to go it could mean that we need to find a new location,” said Craig Annis, the USGA’s chief brand officer. “If we get beyond September we would need to find a U.S. Open-ready course in a place with the right climate and agronomics, with consideration to available daylight hours. We are fortunate to have a number of USGA host site partners who we are engaging with to determine viability.”

Rory McIlroy is a +1000 favorite to win the U.S. Open, followed by Dustin Johnson (+1200), Brooks Koepka (+1400), Jon Rahm (+1600), and Tiger Woods (+1800).

Could tennis follow golf’s lead and do some complete rearranging, or would it just pick up with the original calendar whenever the coronavirus crisis is under control? There is already at least one major shift, as the French Open previously set for May and June is now scheduled for September and October. Wimbledon had no such postponement opportunity because its grass is not suitable for play outside of summer months. The U.S. Open and many other big tournaments, however, could join the French Open in finding later dates and take the 2020 tennis season through November and even December.

Rafael Nadal is a -110 favorite to triumph yet again at Roland Garros.

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