Golf continues to be hit by the coronavirus outbreak, with four big tournaments now having been cancelled due to health concerns.
The LPGA Tour has announced that the Honda LPGA Thailand, scheduled for 20-23 February, and the HSBC Women’s World Championship, due to take place the following week in Singapore, have both been called off.
The loss of the HSBC Women’s World Championship from this year’s schedule is a huge blow as it boasts one of the strongest fields in women’s golf outside of the five majors.
The Blue Bay LPGA on Hainan Island in China had already been cancelled by LPGA bosses because of concerns over the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China.
The trio of cancellations has left the LPGA, the main circuit in women’s golf, with a gap of more than a month on its 2020 shcedule following this week’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
In a statement, the LPGA said the decision to call off two more tournaments in the Far East had been made with the health of players and fans in mind.
“It is always a difficult decision to cancel events and the LPGA greatly appreciates the understanding and all the efforts made by our title sponsors (Honda and HSBC) as well as IMG to host incredible events for our players,” said the US-based circuit.
“The health and safety of our players, fans and everyone working on the event is always our highest priority. While we are disappointed that these tournaments will not take place this season, we look forward to returning to Asia soon.”
The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship, which had been due to take place in Thailand this week, has also been postponed by its organisers, the R&A.
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers, inset, said: “With our partners at the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation, we have taken the decision to postpone the Women’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship .
“The decision has been taken amid serious concerns for the safety of players and officials travelling during the current coronavirus outbreak.
“Our utmost priority is to ensure their safety and the advice we have received in the last 24 hours is that we should not ask them to travel at this time. We will assist all players with their arrangements and hope to reschedule the championship later this year.”
Edinburgh man Kenny Walker, who lives in Thailand, said he was surprised to see events there being cancelled when it had fewer coronavirus cases recorded than Australia, where, in addition to the aforementioned Australian Women’s Open at Grange Golf Club in Adelaide, the European Tour and LPGA were both involved in last week’s ISPS Handa Vic Open at 13th Beach Club.
“Thirty-two cases in Thailand out of 69 million people!” Walker, a former world junior champion, wrote on Facebook. “LPGA and European Tour playing in Australia, which has 15 cases out of 25 million people. So that means that Australia has a higher infection rate than Thailand, but, of course, nobody is scared to go to Australia.”
The European Tour is scheduled to stage the Volvo China Open in Shenzhen in April while the LPGA is due to hold three other events in China, Korea and Taiwan later in the season.