U.S. Women’s Open Postponed Until December

The United States Golf Association postponed the 75th United States Women’s Open from early June to mid-December on Friday, a notable sign that golf’s governing bodies are seriously weighing dates late this year as they scramble to reschedule an ever-expanding list of postponed women’s and men’s events.

The women’s Open will now be contested Dec. 10-13 at the Champions Golf Club in Houston, which had been set to host the event June 4-7. It would be the first women’s major held in December.

“The U.S.G.A. remains committed to hosting the U.S. Women’s Open in 2020,” Mike Davis, the U.S.G.A. chief executive, said. “Our priority remains ensuring the safety of all involved with the U.S. Women’s Open, while still providing the world’s best players the opportunity to compete this year.”

It is the third women’s major to be postponed in recent weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic, behind the ANA Inspiration and the Evian Championship. The ANA Inspiration, originally scheduled for this month has been moved to Sept. 10-13. The Evian Championship was moved back two weeks to Aug. 6-9.

The LPGA Tour on Friday also postponed several events that were rescheduled later in the year. The next L.P.G.A. event — for now — would begin June 19.

“We believe mid-June is doable,” Michael Whan, the LPGA Tour commissioner, said in a conference call with reporters Friday. “If it’s not doable, as I’ve said many times, we have a mid-July plan if we need another 30 days.”

Playing the U.S. Women’s Open in December was proposed by the U.S.G.A. and Whan admitted he would have normally been highly skeptical but in recent weeks he has grown accustomed to entertaining the atypical suggestion.

“Almost every conversation starts with, ‘I’ve got an idea; it might be a crazy one,’” Whan said. He added: “I mean, I know the U.S.G.A. didn’t say, ‘Dec. 7, man, that would be a killer good date for us.’ And so everybody is essentially sort of taking one for the team.”

Whan also acknowledged that some of the events intended to make up the 2020 golf season could end up being contested in 2021.

The women’s Open postponement is another disruption to the golf calendar, joining the delayed men’s majors — the Masters, usually played every April in Augusta, Ga. and the P.G.A. Championship, which was set for mid-May in San Francisco. No rescheduled dates have been announced. Another men’s major, the British Open, is leaning toward a postponement, perhaps until 2021.

A decision on postponing the men’s U.S. Open, scheduled to begin June 11 at the Winged Foot Golf Club in Westchester County, N.Y., is expected next week from the U.S.G.A., hosts of the tournament. While the U.S.G.A. would like to keep the event at Winged Foot, its decision to move the women’s Open to December — rather than scheduling it in an earlier month — signals an understanding that it may be more prudent to target late 2020 as potential landing spot for large scale sporting events. But holding a U.S. Open in December would mean moving the event out of the northeastern United States due to shortened daylight hours and weather concerns.

Even in Houston, the temperate location of the women’s Open, the U.S.G.A. has had to make concessions to accommodate a winter start. It announced Friday it would use two golf courses simultaneously for the first two rounds of the women’s Open.

Additionally, both the men’s and women’s Opens will be broadcast on Fox, which in December expects to be broadcasting a full slate of pivotal, late-season N.F.L. games.

The L.P.G.A. events postponed Friday were the Pelican Women’s Championship in Tampa Bay, which moves from mid-May to Nov. 12-15; the ShopRite L.P.G.A. Classic in Atlantic City, which was slated to begin on May 29 but now will be contested from July 31 to Aug. 2; and the Meijer L.P.G.A. Classic in Michigan, a mid-June event that has yet to be rescheduled. The Pure Silk Championship in Virginia was canceled and will return in 2021. The Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif., postponed last month, was rescheduled to begin Sept. 24.

Given the international makeup of a usual L.P.G.A. field, Whan said one factor in suspending the schedule into June was to give players and their caddies the time and the freedom go home if they wanted. He said there was mounting anxiety about travel bans.

“Rather than saying let’s check back in every two weeks, it just was becoming uncomfortable,” Whan said. “We were actually adding to anxiety, not relieving it, for a lot of our athletes.”