Masters postponed because of coronavirus concerns

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The Masters Tournament is postponed.

The club hopes to play the Masters – and the other amateur events – at a later date this year.

The stunning announcement from Augusta National came down Friday morning, about 12 hours after the PGA Tour canceled its flagship event, The Players Championship, and the next three events on the schedule because of the spread of the coronavirus.

With events called off through the Valero Texas Open, the Masters, slated to begin April 9, was the next tournament on the schedule.

Augusta National hadn’t commented publicly since March 4, when the club said that it was monitoring the situation closely regarding COVID-19 but “proceeding as scheduled” with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals and the Masters Tournament.

Since then, nearly every major American sports league has suspended play, canceled tournaments or delayed the start of its season.

Citing the “ever-increasing risks” of the global pandemic, Augusta National made the unprecedented move to delay the year’s first major.

“Ultimately, the health and well-being of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision,” Masters chairman Fred Ridley said in a statement. “We hope this postponement puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters Tournament and our amateur events at some later date.”

Here is the full statement:

“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. 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.

“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.”