NEXT week’s Hero Indian Open has been postponed due to the ongoing threat posed by the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The decision was made following consultation between the Indian Golf Union, the tournament’s co-sanctioning partners – the European Tour and the Asian Tour – and the tournament title sponsor Hero MotoCorp.
The move came after the latest public health travel advice announced by the Indian government.
The Hero Indian Open was scheduled to take place from March 19-22 at DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurugram, New Delhi – Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher would have been the defending champion.
All parties are looking into the possibility of rescheduling the tournament at some point later in the year, but there are no definitive plans at this stage.
European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said: “In these difficult global circumstances, we fully understand and appreciate the recent restrictions introduced in respect of travel into India.
“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.
“I would like to thank Dr Pawan Munjal and everyone at Hero MotoCorp in addition to the Indian Golf Union for their continued support, and we look forward to returning to India in due course.”
Cho Minn Thant, chief executive and commissioner of the Asian Tour, said: “With these new travel regulations now in place, there has been a significant impact on the ability of our members, officials and service teams of both Tours to make their entry into India for the tournament.
“We will continue to take advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and local health authorities – while monitoring the situation in relation to the possibility of rescheduling the event later in the year.”
European Tour players who are not in the world’s top 50 – and therefore exempt on the PGA Tour – now face a dearth of golf over the next two months.
There are no European Tour events scheduled for five weeks in a row – including the week of The Masters at Augusta (April 91-12) – starting from the World Golf Championship World Match Play Championship, in Austin, Texas, in the last week of March (25-29).
The next European Tour event is scheduled to be the Estrella Damm NA Andalucia Masters, at Valderrama, from April 30-May 3.
The original 2020 European Tour schedule comprised 44 events including the four Majors, plus the Ryder Cup against the USA at Whistlling Straits, in Wisconsin, in September.
•The women’s LPGA Tour called off two of its biggest events earlier in February – the Honda LPGA Thailand (February 20-23) and the HSBC Women’s World Championship a week later.
The LPGA announcement came on February 10 as the virus originally took hold in Asia and after it had already called off the Blue Bay LPGA in China – due to take place on Hainan Island, from March 5-8 – at the end of January.
MENA Tour called halt to season
The MENA Tour also abandoned their spring season after the first four events in 2020 – as the virus outbreak impacted on the golf world with other top sporting events also being cancelled around the world.
The United Arab Emirates-based MENA Tour – which holds a string of events across the Middle East for players working their way up to the European and Challenge Tours – announced the temporary halt to the season on social media last week.
It tweeted on March 5: “Unfortunately, due to the various travel issues caused by the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the MENA Tour by Arena has decided to postpone the remainder of our 2020 season to September-December.
“We will post the new schedule as soon as possible.”
In December, the MENA Tour, which was founded in 2011, announced 11 events played across five countries, including one in North Africa, during the first five months of 2020.
It announced the halt to play after the fourth event of the season – the Journey to Jordan No. 2, which was won by Royal Wimbledon’s Ryan Lumsden, at Ayla Golf Club, in Jordan.
In a statement since published on its website, the tour said: “We are monitoring the situation on a daily basis and we will be publishing the revised 2020 MENA Tour by Arena schedule on our website as soon as possible – all players will be informed of the revised schedule via email.”
Magical Kenya Open third event lost
THIS week’s Magical Kenya Open was cancelled by the European at the end of last week after a similar decision was made by the East African country’s government.
The Government of Kenya decided to postpone all meetings and conferences of an international nature in the country.
The Magical Kenyan Open became the third European Tour event of 2020 to be called off because of the Coronavirus crisis.
As in the case of India, Mr Pelley said the Tour would consider rescheduling the tournament later in the year, but admitted last week that the idea was only a possibility with no definitive plans in place.
The Kenyan Government said the suspension of international events would be reviewed after a month.