The R&A have declared the 149th Open will be played at Royal St George's in July. Now they're working on the next step - getting spectators in

It’s hard to get your head around the fact that Shane Lowry is currently the Open champion. It feels like a lifetime ago that the Irishman lifted that famous Jug at Royal Portrush.

But the Irishman won’t have to wait any longer to defend his title as the R&A have confirmed the Open will go ahead in July – with or without spectators at Royal St George’s.

The 149th edition of golf’s oldest major championship was postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic, with the proposed 150th Open at St Andrews – as well as the 151st and 152nd at Royal Liverpool and Royal Troon respectively – also shunted back 12 months.

And despite the ongoing Covid situation in the UK, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers, speaking to Sky Sports News, said: “We will play the Open this year.”

He added: “Clearly at this point there are multiple scenarios. We are working with the Government and health authorities, and it’s certainly a lot more complex than staging a normal Open Championship.

“But we are going to do everything we possibly can to put on a great Championship for the country.”

Slumbers says he will be keeping a close eye on Augusta in April, with the Masters already declaring a limited number of patrons will be in attendance to watch Dustin Johnson defend his Green Jacket.

“It’s quite interesting,” Slumbers said. “After this dreadful year that we have all gone through, collaboration and learning are two concepts that we’re all picking up a lot more.

“I’m talking to my colleagues at Augusta. I’m watching, I’m learning and we are all doing that as we grapple what’s going to be the ‘new normal’.

“There’s a very good possibility we will be able to have spectators – but we will have to wait and see how many.

“We are balancing the health and safety of everyone involved, but I strongly believe the Open needs spectators.

“It will be really important to have some, but we want to make sure we do it smartly, intelligently, and with due diligence.”

Do you agree with the decision to host the Open – even if it means being played with no spectators? Let me know in the comments below, or you can tweet me.

Subscribe to NCG