The R&A has confirmed that it intends to play the AIG Women’s British Open at Royal Troon from August 20-23 - but it will do so without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will be the first women’s major championship to be played this year and will be broadcast globally to more than 11 million fans.
Martin Slumbers, the chief executive of The R&A, said, “The AIG Women’s British Open is important to the success of women’s professional golf. We have been working closely with our title sponsor AIG, Visit Scotland, Royal Troon and our key advisors to find a way for the championship to be played safely this year.
“We believe that playing the AIG Women’s British Open is a significant step for players whose playing opportunities have been severely impacted this year. As they compete to be the 2020 champion in historic circumstances, these athletes will continue to inspire golfers and sports fans around the world, who will be closely following events from Royal Troon on TV and social media."
The championship will enforce strict health and safety protocols, including the creation of a bio secure zone. Only personnel essential to the championship’s on-site operations - namely players, caddies, officials, and staging staff - will be inside the zone, with their movements for the week limited to the golf course and designated secure hotel.
All personnel will be required to return a negative COVID-19 test from an authorised testing centre and will be subject to further daily temperature checks and rigorous protocols designed to maintain the integrity of the zone and the health of those within it.
The Women's British Open will take place the week after the Ladies Scottish Open, which will also go ahead without spectators as a made-for-TV event.
It will be played from August 13-16 at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick, marking a return of professional women’s golf to Scotland for the first time since Europe’s remarkable triumph in the 2019 Solheim Cup last September.
Catriona Matthew, the architect of that thrilling win, will be amongst those taking part and admits she is looking forward to getting back to playing competitively.
“We are all happy to hear that women’s golf will be getting back underway in Scotland," said Matthew. “With men’s professional golf back playing, it is important that we are able to follow suit, so this is really excellent news for the women’s game and I am delighted to be preparing for my national open in just over a month’s time.”