FILE PHOTO: Fred Ridley, Chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, attends the ceremonial start on the first day of play at the 2019 Master golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, U.S., April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar
(Reuters) – The Masters, which brings together the world’s best golfers in April for the year’s first major, has been postponed because of concerns about the coronavirus, Augusta National Golf Club said on Friday.
People from all over the world attend the Masters at Augusta National, which this year was scheduled for April 9-12, and the club said it hopes the postponement will allow it to host the event safely at a later date.
“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,” Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley said in a statement.
The decision by Augusta National comes a day after the PGA Tour canceled this week’s Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and all events through April 5.
Ridley also said the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the three-pronged junior skills competition known as the Drive, Chip and Putt competition that all led into the Masters have also been postponed.
“Ultimately, the health and well-being of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision,” said Ridley.
“We hope this postponement puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters Tournament and our amateur events at some later date.”
Tiger Woods is the defending Masters champion after snapping an 11-year wait for his 15th major title when he came from behind to win by one shot last April.
Last week, Ridley said the Masters would proceed as scheduled and that precautions would be established to ensure the safety of everyone following the coronavirus outbreak.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Toby Davis