Scheduling Crisis Impacting European Tour Players
WITH the cancellation of the Hero Indian Open, the European Tour is facing something of a scheduling crisis - it comes on top of tournaments in China, Kenya and Malaysia being scrapped, and it means dozens of golfers will be clicking their heels until the Andalucia Masters at the end of April. And that assumes Spain gives that tournament the all-clear, which seems pretty unlikely given the current situation there.
Of course, the safety of players, officials and spectators must come before everything else, but it is highly unlikely that any of these events can be shoehorned into what was a pretty packed schedule. And the impact is huge. Many of these venues would have depended upon the income that the tournaments brought with them. And players hoping to garner valuable world ranking points will be left clicking their heels wondering when they will next be able to strike a ball in anger.
A top-class field should have been heading to India. Instead, the likes of defending champion Stephen Gallacher, the Hojgaard twins, Nicolai and Rasmus, Sami Valimaki, Kalle Samooja and Oman Masters winner Jorge Campillo will all be staying at home.
The decision to cancel the Indian Open was made after extensive 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 Ltd, after the latest public health travel advisories announced by the Indian government.
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.
Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour 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, Asian Tour Commissioner and CEO, 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.”
There is a separate issue here. The events that have been cancelled would have given a host of players the opportunity to enjoy rare victories and work towards securing their cards for next season. That chance has now gone, putting additional pressure on their shoulders when the action resumes.
Gallacher won his first professional title in Asia and his third on the European Tour when he triumphed in Delhi in 2019. The former Ryder Cup player staged a remarkable comeback, firing three birdies in his closing four holes to secure a one-shot victory over Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura. He has shown some decent form recently and would have fancied his chances of making a successful defence. But at least that win means he doesn’t have to worry about his immediate future.
But spare a thought for David Drysdale, another Scot, who lost in a playoff to Campillo in Oman and is still looking for his first victory in almost 500 attempts on the European Tour. Drysdale, whose wife caddies for him, is one of the most popular players on tour and must wonder what on earth he has to do to break his duck. The harsh reality is that he is not a good putter and never has been, but he has now developed a new method which sees him lock the putter grip into his left forearm, and the signs in Oman were good. He would have been looking forward to continuing his good form in India. By the time action resumes in Spain, the magic may well have gone.
Victor Dubuisson was also in the field, still looking to recapture the brilliant form that saw him secure his place in the 2014 European Ryder Cup team. The Frenchman is a mercurial talent who is still capable of producing some brilliant rounds of golf, but now struggles to string together four good rounds. Dubuisson is a man who only plays well when his confidence is high and he would be the first to admit that he is struggling with that part of the equation.
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