The chief executive of the USGA has revealed that the US Open came close to be played in Los Angeles this year shortly before Christmas as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The championship’s postponement was announced on April 6, with officials immediately penciling in this week – September 17-20 – as its new date.
However, on the eve of the action getting underway at Winged Foot, the USGA’s main man, Mike Davis, explained how another contingency was lined up as officials scrambled to try to salvage the event.
“In that early part of March, when we knew this country had a problem, the commissioners of the different tours, the European Tour, the LPGA Tour, and the PGA TOUR, along with the leaderships of the organisations that run the majors, we got together on a very regular basis, via phone, and worked through really a calendar for the rest of the year,” said USGA CEO Davis.
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“To be very transparent with you, we thought we were going to be playing the US Open in December in Los Angeles. We were that close. It really wasn't until the day before we went public with the schedule that we realised that the R&A's Open across the pond couldn't be played in September, which gave us an opportunity to play in September at this wonderful, storied golf course”
The USGA’s senior managing director of championships, John Bodenhamer, added: “I'll never forget it. We were sitting in our conference room, our Merion Conference Room at Golf House on March 13, several of us, and the world began to shut down. Our phones were blowing up, the NCAA, the NBA, the NHL, everything. We all experienced it. It's one of those days you'll never forget. I never will.
“But there were a few things along the way that kind of brought us here. One was we had some wonderful medical advisors who said: Be patient, because what is a hotspot now may not be a hotspot later in the year. And we followed that, and it paid off.”
Bodenhamer went on to say that it was always the USGA’s preferred option to play this year’s championship at Winged Foot
“We looked at every scenario, but we knew what Winged Foot was, and we wanted to be here,” he said. “When that September date came, I can tell you Mike and I looked at each other: Let's go. Let's do this.”