The short-term playing opportunities of some of Australia’s leading professionals are in doubt as concerns surrounding the coronavirus continue to impact world golf tours.
After 13 Aussies took part in last week’s Bandar Malaysia Open in Kuala Lumpur the Asian Tour confirmed on Monday that the Bangabandhu Cup Golf Open due to be played in Dhaka, Bangladesh from March 25-28 will be postponed to a later date, joining this week’s Royal’s Cup in Thailand as early casualties on the Asian Tour schedule.
“Several new cases of COVID-19 have recently been discovered in Dhaka and travel restrictions are being imposed on incoming and outgoing travellers for the immediate future to prevent further spread of the virus,” the Asian Tour said in a statement.
“In view of this global outbreak, a request has been made by the Bangladesh Golf Federation (BGF) to postpone the event and we have also decided that it is in the best interest of all the players, staff and officials to postpone the event.”
Co-sanctioned with the European Tour, next week’s Hero Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club in New Delhi was officially postponed late on Wednesday night, the European Tour confirming what many Aussie players had already feared.
India is presently not allowing incoming passengers from Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea and foreign nationals who have travelled to China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea on or after February 1 are also being denied entry. That adds to the continuing ban on Chinese nationals from entering India, European Tour citing those restrictions as the reason for the postponement until later in the year.
“In these difficult global circumstances, we fully understand and appreciate the recent restrictions introduced in respect of travel into India,” Pelley said in a statement released by the European Tour.
“As these new measures now prevent many members of both Tours being able to play in the tournament, everyone involved in the staging of the Hero Indian Open felt it was the correct decision to postpone the tournament.”
Aussies who were initially on the entry list to play in India Scott Hend (who was unlikely to play due to illness), Wade Ormsby, Andrew Dodt, Maverick Antcliff, Daniel Nisbet, Terry Pilkadaris, David Gleeson and Kiwi Ryan Fox and when they will play next remains uncertain.
The European Tour had already postponed three events due to coronavirus fears prior to delaying the Indian Open. This week’s Magical Kenya Open was postponed last Friday while the Maybank Malaysia and Volvo China Open tournaments scheduled for back-to-back weeks after the Masters have also been put on hold.
Omega Dubai Desert Classic champion Lucas Herbert is not expecting to play until the US PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco from May 14 while Zach Murray could face an even lengthier layoff.
Due to open their season on April 16 with the Token Homemate Cup – where Canberran Brendan Jones is due to defend – there are doubts also that the Japan Golf Tour will be able to commence as scheduled. On Tuesday Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league announced that they had delayed the start to their season to help stop the spread of the virus, unable to confirm when it would begin as the country tries to prevent any addition to the 485 documented cases and 14 deaths to date.
Scheduled to begin in late March, the PGA TOUR has postponed two qualifying events for the PGA TOUR-China series along with the first four events of the season, a shortened season now unlikely to begin until late May or early June.
Although some sports in the United States have begun to put measures in place to deal with any outbreak, the PGA TOUR itself has yet to experience any disruption.
Speaking on the Golf Channel and preparing for The Players at TPC Sawgrass this week, Arnold Palmer Invitational runner-up Marc Leishman said all players could do was to take care of their own personal health.
“You’ve just got to try and take all measures to avoid getting it,” Leishman said.
“If you live your life to avoid the flu I feel like you’re going to have a pretty miserable life. If you live your life trying to avoid the coronavirus I think it’s going to be pretty similar.
“So you don’t want to go doing that but I think it could potentially affect things.
“It’s pretty scary what’s happening at the moment.”
Australia’s leading female players have also been affected with the likes of Minjee Lee, Hannah Green, Su Oh, Katherine Kirk and Sarah Kemp denied starts due to the cancellation of three events in Asia. The Honda LPGA Thailand, the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore and the Blue Bay LPGA which was set to take place March 5-8 in China have all been cancelled but the LPGA expects the Volvik Founders Cup in Phoenix to go ahead as planned.
Tournaments postponed/cancelled to date
Royal’s Cup, Thailand
Bangabandhu Cup Golf Open, Bangladesh
Magical Kenya Open, Kenya
Maybank Malaysia, Malaysia
Volvo China Open, China
Honda LPGA Thailand, Thailand
HSBC Women’s World Championship, Singapore
Blue Bay LPGA, China
PGA TOUR Series-China
Qualifying events and first four tournaments postponed. Shortened season planned to begin late May/early June.