The 2020 U.S. Open will be played with no fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The United States Golf Association (USGA) announced the move on Wednesday, with the PGA Tour season having restarted last month.

The USA has seen more than 4.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the death toll exceeding 153,000.

"Following months of consultation and scenario planning with local and state health officials, we have jointly decided that hosting the U.S. Open without spectators will provide the best opportunity to conduct the championship safely for all involved," USGA chief executive Mike Davis said.

"We will miss the excitement of the fans and what their presence brings to the championship.

"We look forward to welcoming them again to future U.S. Opens."

The U.S. Open is due to be held at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York starting on September 17.

Rory McIlroy believes playing the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational is the perfect preparation for the US PGA Championship.

The world number two is competing at TPC Southwind starting Thursday, as players prepare for the first major of the year – the US PGA.

McIlroy, who is without a top-10 finish since the PGA Tour season restarted last month, feels playing in Memphis is the ideal preparation.

"I don't think I've ever went and played a PGA Championship site beforehand, and obviously I'm not going to do it this year, obviously here," the Northern Irishman told a news conference.

"It's nice. It sort of feels like it's back to the old days where we played Akron and then went straight to the PGA Championship. I always enjoyed those two weeks. I did well, I did well going that way so sort of reminds me back when we did that.

"I don't think I'm approaching it any differently. Obviously, it is going to be different. You're not going to have fans and atmosphere is not going to be what we're used to at a major championship, but it's a major championship venue.

"It's a great golf course, obviously a really strong field, and I don't think there's any better way to get prepared than to play here this week."

Fans are not permitted at PGA Tour events for the rest of the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

McIlroy said he was unsure when he would be comfortable with spectators being allowed back at tournaments.

"I guess when there's less of a chance of people getting sick," he said.

"And whether that's [that] they discover more with the virus or there's different treatments, whether that's a vaccine or other treatments. I don't know.

"Again, like being out here, I feel pretty safe. We get tested multiple times a week, and inside the bubble … obviously you can limit your exposure as much as you can. But yeah, it's hard.

"I don't know, I don't know. Whether it's a vaccination or whether it's something happens where there's a breakthrough and we know a little bit more about what's going on with the virus, but I probably can't give you a definitive answer about when I would be comfortable with crowds again."

The 20th edition of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship will not be staged this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

October 1-4 were due to be the dates for the tournament to take place on the Old Course at St Andrews, the Championship Course at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.

Tournament organisers have decided the European Tour event will not go ahead due to safety concerns, with September 30 to October 3 revealed as the dates for the 2021 competition.

A spokesperson for the Championship Committee said: "This is a real disappointment for ourselves and for all golf lovers, especially those that appreciate links golf.

"Alfred Dunhill has been supporting golf at the Home of Golf and in Scotland for 35 years, initially with the Alfred Dunhill Cup and for the past 19 years with the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

"We commend the Scottish Government in their resolute response to the pandemic. We do not wish to undermine their efforts or cause any undue risk to the communities that normally host us. Given the international nature of the event and in particular our large amateur field we felt that this was the prudent decision to take.

"The size and complexity of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, played over three courses with 168 professionals and 168 amateurs, makes it very difficult to stage safely within the current guidelines given the uncertainties we are all facing.

"Regrettably, therefore, we have decided to postpone the 20th Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to 2021, but very much look forward to returning next year."

Lee Westwood will not play in the US PGA Championship next month as he is concerned "America doesn't take coronavirus as seriously as the rest of the world".

The lifting of a two-week quarantine for players and caddies upon arrival in the United States in order to compete on the PGA Tour will not tempt Westwood to cross the Atlantic.

Westwood has the option of entering a bio-secure bubble for the first major of the year, which will be staged behind closed doors at Harding Park, San Francisco from August 6-9.

The former world number one says he does not feel comfortable about the prospect of travelling to the USA, where there have been over four million confirmed COVID-19 cases and well in excess of 100,000 deaths.

"I'm concerned that America doesn't take coronavirus as seriously as the rest of the world," said the Englishman.

He added: "I still don't feel comfortable and I don't feel it is right to jump on a plane for 12 hours.

"I can control me not getting the virus and take all the measures I can, but somebody might pass it on. I don't really want to get ill with it and I'm slightly asthmatic.

"There are too many what ifs. If you take all of them into consideration, there is something wrong."

Westwood was speaking at the British Masters at Close House Golf Club on the outskirts of Newcastle upon Tyne, where he was the tournament host of the first full European Tour event since March.

Italian Renato Paratore won the event, which was staged without spectators, by three shots on Saturday.

A composed Renato Paratore held his nerve to win the British Masters by three shots on Saturday.

The 23-year-old started his final round at Close House Golf Club on the outskirts of Newcastle upon Tyne with a one-shot advantage after he was bogey-free through 54 holes.

A closing two-under 69 ensured it was mission accomplished for Paratore, who doubled his tally of European Tour titles by finishing with breathing space on 18 under.

The Rome native dropped his first shot of the week at the ninth and also bogeyed the 11th, but made two birdies on the front nine and as many after the turn.

Paratore was given a guard of honour by his fellow players, with no spectators allowed into the course, and took a video call from his mother after winning the first full European Tour event since the season was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dane Rasmus Hojgaard took second place after finishing with a one-under 70, while Justin Harding of South Africa was third on 14 under following a closing one-over 72.

English trio Andy Sullivan, Robert Rock and Dale Whitnell were a further stroke back, not troubling Paratore as he claimed a second European Tour title - just over three years after his first at the Nordea Masters.

Paratore said: "I'm just really, really happy. I didn't expect to come back and win my second one after lockdown but I worked really hard the last year."

Renato Paratore will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the British Masters after carding a second successive five-under 66.

Paratore started moving day at the top of the leaderboard and that is where the Italian finished it on 16 under as he eyes a second European Tour title at Close House Golf Club.

The 23-year-old Rome native is bogey-free in the first full European Tour event since the season was suspended due to the coronavirus in March.

Paratore made three birdies on the front nine and another at the 12th before finishing his third round with another gain to lead Justin Harding by a solitary stroke.

South African Harding matched Paratore's round on the outskirts of Newcastle on Friday, an eagle three at the 10th the highlight of his day.

Rasmus Hojgaard is poised just a further shot back following a 66 of his own, while Dale Whitnell was at 13 under after shooting a 68.

Sam Horsfield surged into contention with the lowest round of his European Tour career, joining fellow Englishman Ashley Chesters on 12 under with a sublime 10-under 61.

Tournament host Lee Westwood is languishing at level-par after going around in 72.

Andrew Johnston explained his withdrawal from the British Masters after nine holes, conceding to struggling with the strict playing conditions, as Renato Paratore moved into the lead.

The event at Close House in Newcastle is being played amid stringent biosecurity protocols, with players not allowed to go beyond the course and the hotel.

Johnston, a top-10 finisher at The Open in 2016, had gone four over par through the front nine on Wednesday before pulling out of the tournament.

"I'm struggling to get my head around it all," Johnston said. "One minute I'm coming out of lockdown, going out for dinner, and then the next I'm back in lockdown in a hotel room.

"I've been on-off saying I'm going to play, I'm not going to play, for months.

"I kept changing my mind. But being here and being confined to the hotel, confined to the course and not being able to bring my family is ultimately not what I want and not how I want to live my life.

"We like to travel as a family and it's just been very difficult to get my head around being stuck in those two places and then coming out and trying to compete.

"It just doesn't feel right. I tried to come up here but I was leaving it later and later.

"I came up Tuesday morning to try to be away as small a time as possible, but it's not good prep for a tournament and it shows I don't really want to be here.

"I've learned to be honest about it, whereas in the past I might have just swallowed it up. I'm not going to do that anymore. If I'm not happy, I'm not going to be here. That’s the golden rule for me now.

"If I'm not in a good place, or I haven't got the right set up around me, then it's not right for me."

Paratore was a stroke behind David Law after round one and carded a five-under 66 to move to 11 under. 

Dale Whitnell and Justin Harding are a stroke behind, the latter setting the low score of round two with an eight-under 63.

Sometimes in golf, you just have to hold your hands up and accept you were beaten by the better player. That is a feeling that was once all too familiar for Tiger Woods' rivals.

That was certainly the case 20 years ago at golf's most iconic venue St Andrews, which was tamed by Woods in awe-inspiring fashion en route to the first of three triumphs at The Open.

A winning score of 19 under par, eight clear of the chasing pack, underpinned the brilliance of Woods and the chasm in quality to the rest of the field in that period in the sport's illustrious history.

We take a trip down memory lane to reminisce about Woods' first feel of the Claret Jug.


HOW IT UNFOLDED

There were 22 birdies and only three bogeys over four days of near flawless golf, while Woods did not once find any of the 128 treacherous St Andrews bunkers – a staggering achievement even in benign conditions.

By the end of round one, it was Ernie Els who led the way, one stroke ahead of Woods and Steve Flesch, providing hope of a duel between two of the game's greats.

Such a notion was completely obliterated on Friday. As Els stagnated, Woods moved three ahead of the field with a glorious 66. At the end of Saturday's moving day, that advantage had doubled to six strokes.

There was the briefest of challenges from David Duval on Sunday, an electric start seeing him birdie four of the opening seven holes to get within three – as close as anyone would get to Woods. 

Duval made a cringe-inducing eight at the 17th, needing four attempts to finally get out of the Road Hole Bunker, as Els and Thomas Bjorn were left in a tie for second, a distant eight strokes back.

For Woods, the unerring way he won his first Claret Jug would leave his rivals scratching their heads at how to compete with, let alone defeat, this winning machine.


WHAT HE SAID

"It is really hard to put into words the emotions and feelings going through me and the thoughts that are running through my head," Woods said at the time.

"To have an opportunity to complete the slam at St Andrews where golf all started makes it even more special.

"I've been fortunate to have my game peak at the right times. I've always said you'd like to have your game peak at four different times a year, but to actually have it happen is a different story.

"So far I've had a wonderful, wonderful young career and hopefully I can continue the success I have. If I don't that's fine too.

"I am going to keep working on my game, keep trying to get better and we will see what happens."


THE NOTABLE FACTS

- Woods' 19-under-par score was a record for any major at the time. Henrik Stenson would record a -20 at Royal Troon in 2016, while Jason Day had also set that benchmark score at the 2015 US PGA Championship.

- His winning margin was the largest in The Open since JH Taylor won by eight in 1913.

- Woods became just the third Open champion after Greg Norman and Nick Price to shoot four rounds under 70.

- At the age of 24, Woods joined Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus in winning all four majors and completing golf's Grand Slam. He is the youngest player to have done so.


AN UNTHINKABLE 2000

The millennium bug may never have come to fruition, but Woods' performances in the 2000 majors had the look of a computer game glitch such was his utter dominance.

Vijay Singhfinished the first major of the new century with a slick green jacket at the Masters in April, but Woods completely took apart the field at Pebble Beach to win the U.S. Open a couple of months later.

There were no three-putts on the course's famous glassy greens and Woods alone finished in the red…at 12 under par! Miguel Angel Jimenez and Els, his nearest "rivals", were three over.

The 15-stroke margin of victory remains the biggest in major history and was followed by his astounding weekend at St Andrews a month later.

At the US PGA Championship, it was not quite as straightforward as the unheralded Bob May matched his score of 18 under, but Woods was not to be denied in the play-off.

By the start of next year, Woods was champion at Augusta to become the first player to be in possession of all four majors at the same time.

David Law made up for lost time in the first round of the British Masters with seven birdies in the space of eight holes to take a one-shot lead.

Close House Golf Club on the outskirts of Newcastle is the venue for the first full European Tour event since March, when the season was suspended due to the coronavirus crisis.

Law was not among the field for two competitions in Austria that were co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour in the past fortnight, but the Scotsman showed no signs of rust on Wednesday after a long lay-off.

The 29-year-old signed for a seven-under 64 after a bogey-free start, making his seven gains between the sixth and 13th holes with no spectators allowed in to watch.

Oliver Fisher took the clubhouse lead with a six-under 65 but shares second place with Renato Paratore and Garrick Porteous.

Aaron Cockerill, Pedro Figueiredo, Rasmus Hojgaard and Lee Slattery are just two shots adrift of Law, who believes he has benefited from an unexpected break from the Tour.

"We've been lucky at home, not having anyone affected by the illness thankfully," he said. "I've got a daughter who is 19 months old, so to have that extended time at home - I'll never get that again probably - so we had a great time.

"It was a nice time for me because I wasn't playing the best going into that break, so it was a good time to recharge and reboot."

Miguel Angel Jimenez equalled Sam Torrance's record of 706 appearances at European Tour events and sits four shots off the lead.

Jack Nicklaus finished just ahead of Tiger Woods to be crowned The Open For The Ages champion in a dramatic conclusion at St Andrews.

With the coronavirus outbreak having led to the cancellation of this year's Open, organisers created a celebratory edition involving some of the sport's greatest names, with archive footage used to recreate the action.

The winner was worked out through the combination of a fan vote and a data model that utilised career statistics and historical Open data.

Legendary duo Nicklaus and Woods were tied at the summit of the leaderboard on 12 under heading into the last day – and the pair did not disappoint in a thrilling final round.

After top spot had changed hands across an entertaining day, the crucial moment came on the penultimate hole when Woods – who has claimed two of his three Open victories at the St Andrews course – bogeyed.

Nicklaus, an 18-time major winner, had seen a birdie putt at the 17th drift narrowly wide but a par at the last was enough, the American completing a blemish-free 68 to win by a solitary shot from his compatriot.

Seve Ballesteros finished up in third on 15 under par, two clear of Tom Watson and Nick Faldo.

The 149th edition of the Championship had been scheduled to take place this week, but Royal St George's must wait another year due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

St Andrews will next host the tournament in July 2022, as it celebrates its 150th edition.

Joel Stalter claimed his first European Tour title by two shots after his compatriot Robin Sciot-Siegrist faltered in the final round of the Euram Bank Open.

Sciot-Siegrist held a three-shot advantage heading into the last day at Golf Club Adamstal, but it was fellow Frenchman Stalter who celebrated a maiden European Tour triumph.

The 28-year-old carded a second successive two-under 68 to finish on 14 under, with Richard Mansell second after signing for a 71.

Stalter moved into the lead with his second birdie of the day at the 10th and responded immediately from his only bogey of the round by making a third and final gain at 15.

That was enough to be crowned champion in picturesque Ramsau, Austria, where Sciot-Siegrist fell apart with a closing five-over 75.

Sciot-Siegrist was made to pay for a triple-bogey seven at the ninth, while he also dropped shots at seven and 17 to finish in a share of third with Alexander Knappe and Christofer Blomstrand.

Joost Luiten, who led after round two, matched Stalter's final round to finish tied for sixth with Garrick Higgo and Julien Brun.

Robin Sciot-Siegrist delivered some scintillating golf either side of storms at the Euram Bank Open to claim a three-shot lead heading into the final round.

Play was suspended for nearly two hours in Austria because of lightning in the area, which threatened to disrupt Sciot-Siegrist's fine start.

However, having birdied the third and fifth before being forced off, Sciot-Siegrist went up a gear when play resumed, making gains at six straight holes between the eighth and 13th.

A ninth and final birdie at 16 left him on 16 under for the tournament, three strokes clear of Richard Mansell, in just his 12th European Tour start.

Overnight leader Joost Luiten - the highest ranked player in the field - had a day to forget, his challenge effectively ended when he made a 10 at the par-five seventh.

Further bogeys followed at eight and nine as he signed for a four-over 74, leaving him eight off the pace.

Joost Luiten will take a two-shot lead into day three of the Euram Bank Open thanks to a stunning 63 on Thursday.

Luiten, who also briefly led at the Austrian Open last week before finishing in a share of 18th, was in fine shape for most of the day at the spectacular Golf Club Adamstal in the Austrian Alps.

The Dutchman carded an eagle at the par-five third for the second successive day and also recorded three birdies on the front nine.

He looked to be heading for an unblemished round but dropped a shot on the par-three 18th, and despite an otherwise impressive day, Luiten could not hide his frustration with that bogey.

He said: "You never want to finish with a bogey. I missed the green, hit a decent chip and missed a short putt from about eight foot.

"All in all, it was a good day and I don't want to ruin it just because of the bogey on the last. I need to take the positives into the weekend."

Indeed, that has given him a little breathing room at 12 under for the tournament, two clear of Joel Stalter – who had earlier set the clubhouse lead – and Philip Erikson.

Like Luiten, Stalter also got an eagle on the third hole, sinking a remarkable approach from 112 yards and he added a further three birdies, going bogey-free for the round.

None of the leading trio will want to rest on their laurels, however, with five other players on eight under or better.

Scott Fernandez, a further shot back on seven under, might just fancy his chances of getting into contention, particularly after his impressive round.

The Spaniard, who shot one over par on day one, jumped 90 places on the leaderboard thanks to a sensational eight-under round of 62, the lowest score of the day.

Marc Warren landed his fourth European Tour title and first in six years when he held his nerve on the final day of the Austrian Open.

The 39-year-old Scot had to go to qualifying school to win back his tour card in 2018 after results tailed off, and there have been slim pickings ever since, with Warren failing to achieve a top-20 finish in the past 18 months and falling to 1,258th in the world rankings.

He was co-leader overnight in Austria with German player Nicolai von Dellingshausen, and a roller coaster two-under-par 70 saw Warren reach a winning 13-under total. Four bogeys were countered by six birdies, including two crucial gains at the 15th and 17th holes.

Once a World Cup winner for Scotland alongside Colin Montgomerie, Warren picks up 76,823 euros (£67,500) for his success at this co-sanctioned European Tour and Challenge Tour event - the first tournament for both tours since golf was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Von Dellingshausen slumped to a dispiriting four-over 76 and trailed home in a tie for 15th, with his German compatriot Marcel Schneider taking second place, a shot behind Warren.

Schneider was the most consistent player in the field at Diamond Country Club, shooting scores of 69 each day and dropping only four shots throughout the tournament.

Wil Besseling of the Netherlands snagged third on 11 under after a snappy closing 66, which saw him reach the turn in just 31 shots.

Spain's Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez went to the short 18th with a shot at the title, playing alongside Warren and Von Dellingshausen, but rather than hole the birdie that would have forced a play-off, a double-bogey five saw him sink to a share of fourth.

Warren's countrymen Craig Howie and Connor Syme, and Dutchman Darius van Driel, joined Garcia Rodriguez on 10 under.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, the 56-year-old charismatic Spaniard, saw his title hopes go up in smoke on Saturday, having led through 36 holes.

A 77 from Jimenez knocked him down the leaderboard, but a closing 70 on Sunday allowed him to nudge up into a share of eighth place.

Marc Warren and Nicolai von Dellingshausen are tied for the lead heading into the final day of the Austrian Open.

The duo are 11 under par after each carded a 70 for a third round played in heavy rain in Atzenbrugg.

Von Dellingshausen set the clubhouse target after finishing two under for the day thanks to four birdies, and the German was pleased with his form in tricky conditions.

"I was a little bit surprised," said the 27-year-old, who is seeking a first European Tour title. "I find it difficult to play in the rain, probably more so than others do, but I had a really good start to the round. [I] hit some consistent, solid shots and holed some putts, so it went fairly fast. It was difficult out there and I knew there would be some trouble during the round, but I was solid.

"It [the course] was playing completely different to the days before. No roll basically, long irons into the greens where we had been hitting wedges in, so considering the rain today, I was quite happy when I was somewhere close to the hole and could make those putts."

Warren was equally content with his play for the day given Friday's second round was played in temperatures pushing 35 degrees Celsius.

"Probably as wet coming off today as I was yesterday, but with water today instead of sweat," said Warren, whose last of three European Tour wins came in 2014.

"I know what to expect. Some guys haven't won before, they might not know what to expect. I'm pretty comfortable with the situation I'm in. Hopefully a good front nine tomorrow and I'll be in with a chance to win."

Warren's fellow Scot, Connor Syme, is tied at 10 under along with Darius van Driel and Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez, with Joost Luiten, Joel Stalter and Marcel Schneider a stroke further back.

Overnight leader Miguel Angel Jimenez is in a share of 12th place on six under, with double bogeys at the ninth and 10th holes leading to a disappointing third-round score of 77.

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