US Open could have moved to Los Angeles in December if The Open went ahead this month
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 16/09/20 6:56pm
This year's US Open could have been played in Los Angeles in December had The 149th Open not been cancelled, it has been revealed..
The US Open was initially postponed in early April when professional golf worldwide was shut down by the Covid-19 pandemic, and it was announced the same day that The Open at Royal St George's would not be played until July, 2021.
There had been discussions over the logistics of moving The Open to September, prompting the United States Golf Association to consider abandoning plans to play the US Open at Winged Foot and stage the championship in California in December instead.
But when it was confirmed that The Open would be delayed for a year, it allowed the USGA to proceed with plans for their flagship tournament to go ahead at the historic Winged Foot, which last held the US Open 14 years ago.
USGA chief executive officer, Mike Davis, said: "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.
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"We worked through a calendar for the rest of the year and, to be very transparent, 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."
Davis also admitted he was hopeful the US Open would be able to go ahead with a limited number of spectators on site, but it soon became clear that allowing fans to attend would not be possible for health and safety reasons.
"There was also a period of time when we thought we were going to have limited spectators here at Winged Foot," Davis added. "The state, the county, the town of Mamaroneck and the members at Winged Foot had just been wonderful, but it wasn't until several weeks out that we just realised there was no way to do this in a safe manner.
"While we want spectators here, it's the millions of people around the world that have an opportunity to watch this, but it's also those 144 players getting to play for that coveted trophy and that Jack Nicklaus Gold Medal, that's what really counts and that's what history is going to remember."
Championship director John Bodenhamer also revealed that there would be more strategic placing of volunteer marshals around the Winged Foot layout to help combat the prospect of more lost balls in the thick rough with no spectators lining the fairways.
"That's something we put a lot of thought into, and we have got a good game plan," said Bodenhamer. "It's not entirely different from what we normally would do for a US Open with volunteers, and we call them stationary marshals or ball spotters, that will be strategically positioned at certain parts of the course.
"We have done research in the practice rounds leading up as to where balls are going. We have actually charted that. We know where the more difficult areas of some of the rough grass is. So we're positioning people that way.
"We have got about a dozen or more bodies on every single long hole. We have got somebody signalling from the tee into the fairway, and we have got people up on the hole.
"We have even gone to the extent of bringing in some of the wonderful Winged Foot Golf Club caddies who are doing this on a daily basis when they're here, and they know this golf course better than anybody.
We feel great about the opportunity we have given to find golf balls this year, and we're going to do a great job of it."