No rite of spring for golf: Masters postponed due to virus

FILE - In this April 14, 2019, file photo, Tiger Woods reacts as he wins the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga. The photo was part of a series of images by photographer David J. Phillip which won the Thomas V. diLustro best portfolio award for 2019 given out by the Associated Press Sports Editors during their annual winter meeting in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
FILE - In this April 14, 2019, file photo, Tiger Woods reacts as he wins the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga. The photo was part of a series of images by photographer David J. Phillip which won the Thomas V. diLustro best portfolio award for 2019 given out by the Associated Press Sports Editors during their annual winter meeting in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Augusta National on Friday postponed the Masters, another massive hit to the spring sports calendar from the new coronavirus that already is responsible for the loss of March Madness and the delay of opening day baseball.

So much for that annual rite of spring and the first week in April devoted to the brilliance of dogwoods and azaleas, Amen Corner and Tiger Woods chasing another green jacket.

“Unfortunately, the ever-increasing risks associated with the widespread coronavirus have led us to a decision that undoubtedly will be disappointing to many, although I am confident is appropriate under these unique circumstances," Masters chairman Fred Ridley said in a statement.

The Masters had been scheduled for April 9-12.

Ridley said he hoped the decision puts Augusta National in the best position to host the Masters and its two other amateur events “at some later date.”

He did not indicate when the Masters could be played. The private club traditionally closes in May and does not open for its members until October.

“That's not a fun message to get,” said J.T. Poston, among PGA Tour winners who had qualified for their first Masters. “That's a tournament that I've been looking forward to since I was a kid, and still very much looking forward to it. I know I'll get my chance at it. Just won't know when that'll be.”

The decision comes 12 hours after PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan canceled four tournaments, starting with the final three rounds of The Players Championship and its $15 million purse.