PINEHURST, N.C. (Reuters) - Contingency plans are afoot in case the sectional qualifiers for the U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Open scheduled for Asia and elsewhere are canceled due to the coronavirus, U.S. Golf Association (USGA) CEO Mike Davis has said.
Speaking after the USGA annual meeting on Saturday, Davis told reporters the association was discussing various scenarios but would not make any immediate decisions given the rapidly-changing situation with the virus.
The U.S. Women’s Open appears the championship most likely to be affected, with qualifiers scheduled for China (Shanghai), South Korea and Japan late next month.
China is the epicenter of the virus, which has spread to many corners of the globe, with South Korea and Japan reporting hundreds of infections.
“You can see how quickly things can turn,” Davis told a small group of reporters. “People are trying to be proactive - ‘What is a worst-case scenario and what do we need to do now?’ We’re doing some things but everything’s on schedule right now.”
Competitions chief John Bodenhamer, who is in charge of the men’s and women’s Open tournaments, described the potential problems as daunting, and not just the issue of whether international qualifiers will go ahead.
Among the questions the association is pondering is whether players who qualify from the most affected countries will even be able to get into the U.S. for the men’s and women’s opens.
“We’re trying to get our head around all of that. It’s pretty daunting but we’ve started,” Bodenhamer said.
The women’s open is scheduled to be held at the Champions Club in Houston, Texas from June 4-7, with the men’s championship at Winged Foot in New York two weeks later.
The coronavirus has already started to affect the travel plans for USGA staff.
Davis and a fellow official have canceled a trip to St Andrews, Scotland, this week where they were due to meet their counterparts from the R&A, with which it jointly administers the rules of the sport globally.
“We’re going to do them virtually now,” Davis said of the meetings.
Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Ken Ferris