Before the U.S. Golf Association settled on a September date for the rescheduled U.S. Open at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., a backup plan to hold the major event at Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles in December was considered. A USGA executive told Golfweek on Monday of the maneuverings.
The revised PGA Tour calendar announced Monday has the U.S. Open set for Sept. 17-20. However, that week reportedly was being held as a possible landing spot for The Open Championship, which had been scheduled for July 16-19 at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England.
The Open Championship was canceled earlier Monday due to the coronavirus pandemic, as announced by The Royal & Ancient, who run the tournament.
The September edition of the U.S. Open will feature 144 players, down from the normal 156, because of the lesser amount of daylight hours available after the move away from the planned dates of June 18-21.
Still, the changes to the U.S. Open could have been far more dramatic had the R&A opted to move The Open Championship to mid-September.
“When it became clear that we would need to postpone the June dates, we began exploring a Plan B option in conjunction with the industry and our broadcast partner Fox Sports that had us potentially moving the U.S. Open to December, among other dates,” USGA chief brand officer Craig Annis told Golfweek. “Any move later into autumn would have required us to play out west.”
Several courses, including Torrey Pines in San Diego and Pebble Beach in Northern California, according to Golfweek, were considered before the focus turned to Riviera in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Riviera hosted the U.S. Open in 1948 and the U.S. Senior Open in 1998, and it was the site of the 1983 and 1995 PGA Championships.
The event long known as the Los Angeles Open, now the Genesis Invitational, has been held each year since 1999 at Riviera, and the 2028 Olympic golf competition is set to be held at the 94-year-old course.
Per Golfweek, Riviera hasn’t been under consideration as a U.S. Open site recently due to a lack of space for corporate hospitality and the event’s large modern infrastructure.
“We were honored that Riviera stepped up to offer their wonderful course to host the U.S. Open Championship this year if need be,” Annis told Golfweek. “They have been a wonderful partner and we have been intrigued by the possibility of going back for many years, but couldn’t quite figure out how to do it on a smaller footprint. This situation could have been ideal given the circumstances.
“We continued to develop potential plans in line with this concept until a date in September became available. In the end, we believe the opportunity to try and continue to play the U.S. Open at Winged Foot this year would be better for golf and was one that we should pursue if given the chance.”
—Field Level Media