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U.S. Open nearly moved to Los Angeles in December due to COVID-19

·2 mins read
PGA: U.S. Open - Practice Round
PGA: U.S. Open - Practice Round

(Reuters) - This week's U.S. Open at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York, would likely have been played in December in Los Angeles had the British Open not been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the United States Golf Association said on Wednesday.

The USGA, whose flagship event was originally set for mid-June, only settled on a September date once organisers of the British Open, which were also considering rescheduling for the same month, decided to cancel the 2020 edition.

USGA Chief Executive Mike Davis, speaking at Winged Foot on the eve of the tournament, said heads of the PGA Tour, European Tour and organisations that run the majors got together on a regular basis as the sporting world froze in March.

"To be very transparent with you, we thought we were going to be playing the U.S. Open in December in Los Angeles. We were that close," Davis said.

"It really wasn't until the day before we went public with the schedule that we realized that the R&A's Open across the pond couldn't be played in September, which gave us an opportunity to play in September."

Davis also said there was a period of time where he had been hopeful the major would have been able to welcome a limited number of spectators on site.

Due to health and safety reasons the U.S. Open will instead be closed to the general public, as has every event on the PGA Tour since the circuit resumed play in mid-June after a three-month COVId-19 hiatus.

"There was a period of time ... that we thought we were going to have limited spectators here at Winged Foot," said Davis.

"The state, and the county, the town of Mamaroneck, the members at Winged Foot had just been wonderful, but it really -- it wasn't until several weeks out that we just realized there was no way to do this in a safe manner."

First-round action at Winged Foot will begin at 6:50 a.m. ET (1050 GMT) on Thursday. American Gary Woodland is the defending champion.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)