NEW ZEALAND OPEN ORGANISERS RELEASED A STATEMENT ON TUESDAY SAYING:
THIS COULD BE A HUGE BLOW TO THE NEW ZEALAND OPEN, AS IT IS CURRENTLY THE ONLY OTHER EVENT LISTED ON THE ASIAN TOUR SCHEDULE, ALONGSIDE THE SAUDI INTERNATIONAL, FOR THE UPCOMING 2022 SEASON. THE 2022 ASIAN TOUR SEASON COULD BE THE BIGGEST IN THE HISTORY OF THE TOUR, AND THE NEW ZEALAND OPEN LOOKED LIKE BEING A KEY PART OF THAT, BUT IF IT DOES GO AHEAD WITH JUST KIWI GOLFERS THAT WILL SURELY SEE THE TOURNAMENT REMOVED FROM THE TOUR FOR 2022.
POSSIBLY THE BEST OPTION IS TO PUSH THE 2022 EVENT BACK TO NOVEMBER OR DECEMBER IN AN ATTEMPT TO RECRUIT A STRONG, GLOBAL FIELD NEAR THE END OF THE ASIAN TOUR SEASON.
THIS NEWS FOLLOWS THE ANNOUNCEMENTS A FEW WEEKS AGO THAT THE AUSTRALIAN OPENS FOR MEN AND WOMEN WERE TO BE CANCELLED IN 2021 AND SET TO BE PUSHED BACK TO LATE 2022 IN AN EFFORT TO ALLOW AUSTRALIA TO RETURN TO NORMAL AFTER THE PANDEMIC, INCREASING CHANCES OF RECRUITING A STAR FIELD FOR THE TOURNAMENTS. BUT WITH AN INCREASINGLY CONGESTED SCHEDULE ON BOTH THE PGA TOUR AND DP WORLD TOUR IT SEEMS UNLIKELY THIS WILL HAPPEN IN ANY CASE.
"The decision has not been made lightly but we believe it to be the right outcome under the current circumstances," Golf Australia chief James Sutherland said.
Golf Australia general manager for events and operations THERESE Magdulski added that public health concerns and continued uncertainty over travel also played their part as the virus continues to flare around Australia.
"When we decided back in June that we'd try to get these tournaments to run again, we weren't even dealing with the Delta variant," she said.
"Everything's changed since then, and it can change again.
"In the end, these are incredibly hard decisions and it's terribly disappointing for everyone in the industry, but we've tried hard to make it happen, and it has not come together as we'd like."
THE CHAMPIONSHIP, THE 2ND OLDEST OPEN IN THE WORLD, IS SET TO TAKE PLACE ON THE GARY PLAYER COUNTRY CLUB COURSE AT SUN CITY AND THE FIELD INCLUDES GARRICK HIGGO, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, BRANDON STONE, RICHARD STERNE, DEAN BURMESTER, HENNIE OTTO, GEORGE COETZEE, JUSTIN HARDING, THOMAS AIKEN, JAMES KINGSTON, LOUIS DE JAGER, JEAN HUGO, AS WELL AS SCOTLAND'S DAVID DRYSDALE AND ENGLISHMAN AND SON OF GOLF PHOTOGRAPHER DAVID, CHRIS CANNON.
COVERAGE OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN OPEN IS ON SKY SPORTS GOLF FROM 10AM ON THURSDAY.