The 149th Open cancelled for this year and will return to Sandwich in 2021

The 149th Open has been cancelled for 2020 and will now be played at Royal St George’s in July next year, the R&A has announced.

The Championship is the first men’s major of the year to be cancelled outright, with the Masters and the PGA Championship both being rescheduled while US Open organisers remain hopeful of going ahead as planned in June.

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers confirmed that The 149th Open will now be played at the historic Sandwich links next year, with the Old Course at St Andrews now hosting The 150th Open in 2022.

A statement issued on Monday read: “The R&A has decided to cancel The Open in 2020 due to the current Covid-19 pandemic. The Championship will next be played at Royal St George’s in 2021.

“The Open was due to be played in Kent from 12-19 July but it has been necessary to cancel the Championship based on guidance from the UK Government, the health authorities, public services and The R&A’s advisers. This is the first time since the Second World War that golf’s original Championship, first played in 1860, has been cancelled.

“The 149th Open will be played at Royal St George’s from 11-18 July 2021. The 150th Open will be played at St Andrews from 10-17 July 2022.

“The R&A will transfer over 2020 purchased tickets and hospitality packages to The Open in 2021. Purchasers who no longer wish to (or are no longer able to) attend in 2021 will receive a full refund. Further information on this process will be sent directly to ticket and hospitality purchasers in due course.”

Slumbers added: “Our absolute priority is to protect the health and safety of the fans, players, officials, volunteers and staff involved in The Open. We care deeply about this historic Championship and have made this decision with a heavy heart.

“We appreciate that this will be disappointing for a great many people around the world but we have to act responsibly during this pandemic and it is the right thing to do. I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year but it is not going to be possible.

“There are many different considerations that go into organising a major sporting event of this scale. We rely on the support of the emergency services, local authorities and a range of other organisations to stage the Championship and it would be unreasonable to place any additional demands on them when they have far more urgent priorities to deal with.

“In recent weeks we have been working closely with those organisations as well as Royal St George’s, St Andrews Links Trust and the other golf bodies to resolve the remaining external factors and have done so as soon as we possibly could. We are grateful to all of them for their assistance and co-operation throughout this process.