Coronavirus: The Masters at Augusta is postponed over health crisis

Tiger Woods won The Masters in 2019 to claim the Green Jacket
Tiger Woods is the reigning Masters champion but will have a longer wait to defend the title

The Masters has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The first men's major championship of the year was due to begin on 9 April at Augusta National in Georgia.

"We hope this puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters Tournament and our amateur events at some later date," said Fred Ridley, chairman of Augusta National.

It is the Masters' first postponement since World War II, which stopped the tournament in 1943, 1944 and 1945.

Earlier on Friday the PGA Tour cancelled the Players Championship and stopped play on the circuit until after the Valero Texas Open, which was scheduled to end on 5 April - the day before Masters week would have begun.

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The decision comes on a day of widespread sporting postponements worldwide.

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There is therefore no golf scheduled on the PGA Tour until the RBC Heritage on 16 April, with the European Tour's next event set to be the Andalucia Open on 30 April. The first ladies major of the year - the ANA Inspiration - was also called off on Friday.

"Considering the latest information and expert analysis, we have decided at this time to postpone the Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Women's Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals," Ridley added in a statement.

"The health and well-being of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision.

"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.

"As coronavirus continues to impact the lives of people everywhere, we seek your understanding of this decision and know you share our concern given these trying times."

As of 14:45 GMT, more than 125,000 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in 118 countries around the world, according to the World Health Organization. The total number of deaths is more than 4,600.

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