IBF's hope for golf's majors in late 2020

Australian major winner Ian Baker-Finch believes golf's four majors could be crammed in late in the year, culminating with the Masters at Augusta.

Picture: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

An extraordinary Masters in November, when autumn leaves are falling at Augusta National, could cap a triumphant return for golf as organisers look to squeeze in the four majors at the end of the year.

That's the belief and hope of Ian Baker-Finch, who says there is merit in speculation that the US Open, British Open, PGA Championship and Masters could be staged in that order during a three-month span starting at the end of August if circumstances allow.

In normal times, golf fans would be eagerly anticipating a spectacular start to the majors season next week, with Tiger Woods defending the Masters crown he won amid such emotional scenes last year.

The coronavirus currently engulfing the US, UK and countries in Europe ruled that out with all tours suspended.

But British Open winner turned US golf broadcaster Baker-Finch, isn't giving up hope that golf's biggest events can still be played in 2020 and provide the public welcome relief after a grim time.

That includes the wildly-popular biennial Ryder Cup clash between the US and Europe which could be held during that three-month stretch in its original dates in late September.

"I think, if we get back to playing golf in maybe August, we could play all four majors, the Ryder Cup and the PGA Tour's big play-off events in that final four months of the year," Baker-Finch told AAP.

Regular PGA Tour events have been cancelled due to COVID-19 and the next scheduled tournament is the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial CC in Texas from May 21, although it is unlikely to go ahead with the US struggling to cope with a severe virus outbreak.

The Masters postponement to an undetermined date was its first interruption since World War II when it was cancelled from 1943-1945.

The PGA Championship, which was to be mid-May at San Francisco's TPC Harding Park, was also postponed.

The USGA is expected to announce later this week that the US Open will be postponed from mid-June, with some suggesting it will be held late August and remain at New York's Winged Foot GC.

There are also suggestions the British Open, which was to be held at Royal St George's in England in mid-July, will be moved to September and that the PGA Championship will be played in October.

That would allow the Masters to be held in November, when turf conditions and weather best resemble April in Augusta, Georgia.

Baker-Finch believes that can be one of the most anticipated editions in the Masters' 86-year history.

"When golf returns, there is a real opportunity to be so appreciative of what we've missed. It will be a really exciting time," said Baker-Finch, a pundit for US network CBS, the TV rights-holder for the Masters.

Former Augusta Chronicle sports writer Scott Michaux said the falling red-and-yellow leaves of autumn could give a November Masters unprecedented beauty.

"It could be very colourful if the leaves are changing; there are enough hardwood trees on the property that if (Augusta National) times it right, it could look really spectacular," Michaux said.

Australian world No.15 Marc Leishman, who won on the PGA Tour in January, says it would be special to contest such a rare edition of the Masters.

"November would be awesome and it would be very different, visually," said Leishman, who owns two top-10 results from seven Masters.

"They can get the greens super quick at that time of year and the course, honestly, could be in even better condition than April.

"I just hope they can play the Masters at some point this year."


AAP