THE European Tour has confirmed the postponement today of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open due to the continuing threat posed by the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The tournament was scheduled to be the European Tour’s second Rolex Series event of 2020, taking place at Mount Juliet Estate from May 28-31, with Major champion Graeme McDowell as host.
It brings the total number of events on the European Tour schedule either cancelled or postponed to 11 from the second week in March through to the end of May.
European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said: “The decision to postpone the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open follows consultation with all stakeholders and was made with public health and well-being as our absolute priority.
“Our thoughts are with everyone right now and we are all united in trying to fight the spread of the pandemic.
“With this in mind, we will continue to evaluate all aspects of our 2020 European Tour schedule, and discussions on the rescheduling of postponed events will remain ongoing until we have clarity on the global situation.”
Dubai Duty Free chief executive Colm McLoughlin said: “We fully support the European Tour in their decision to postpone the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
“The most important thing right now is the health and safety of all the players, the spectators, the sponsors and organisers, so it’s the right decision.”
Tournament host McDowell said: “As important as the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is to all of us, everyone’s health is our only concern.
“My thoughts are with everyone affected by the crisis and I hope everyone keeps safe and well during these difficult times.”
The 2010 US Open Champion, who claimed the Saudi International in early February for his first win on the European Tour in more than five years, agreed to host the Irish Open in 2020 and 2021 before Christmas.
Cancelled tournaments list grows
THE first four events called off by the European Tour were the Magical Kenya Open, the Hero Indian Open, the Volvo China Open and Malaysia’s Maybank Championship
The four events sandwiched the WGC Dell Technologies World Match Play and the Masters on the European Tour’s international schedule.
Two weeks ago, the European Tour postponed the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama, at the end of April, followed a week later by the Made in Denmark tournament in May, as well as cancelling the GolfSixes Casçais, in Portugal – the latter two events were planned for either side of the USPGA.
Speculation has continued over the past few days over whether the US Open at Winged Foot, in June, and the 149th Open Championship at Royal St George’s in July, will join the Masters and USPGA Championship in being postponed until later in the summer, or even autumn.
Rumours suggest the Augusta National Golf Club are looking at a date in early October for the Masters, with the USPGA possibly moving to a date in early August vacated by the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics last week.
The TPC Harding Park in San Francisco was set to host Brooks Keopka’s defence of the Sam Wanamaker Trophy in May, before the coronavirus pandemic spread to the USA from China.
The USGA, who organise the US Open are said to be close to making an announcement on their flagship event, with New York’s Long Island at the epicentre of the current COVID-19 outbreak in North America.
With talk of a possible quarantine of New York city and New York State, moving the US Open to another venue, or pushing it back to the autumn from its date in the third week of June, are the most likely option.