Golf & COVID-19
European Tour replaces dropped tournament with Austrian Open
Starting only four days after the final round of the Masters, the Austrian Open likely won’t attract many of European golf’s biggest names. But news that the event—won last year by Scotland’s Marc Warren—will return to the European Tour, April 15-18, is a welcome boost for the currently beleaguered circuit. Late last week European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley was forced to announce the postponement of the Portugal Masters, as well as a reshuffling of next month’s schedule.
As things now stand, the €1 million Austrian event will fill the slot recently vacated by the Tenerife Open, which takes the place of the Portugal Masters (April 29-May 2), one week after the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have had to be agile with our scheduling, and today’s announcement is another example of that,” Pelley said in a press release. “We are naturally grateful to Diamond Country Club and the Austrian Golf Federation for once again helping us to continue to provide a full schedule and playing opportunities for our members. Diamond Country Club [located just outside Vienna and hosting the Austrian Open for the 11th consecutive year] is obviously a venue that we know very well, and we look forward to returning there next month.”
In the longer term, however, things are not looking quite so cheery for the Old World circuit. With a third wave of COVID-19 already sweeping the European continent, the future is at best uncertain with regard to travel. Right now, the tour is down to visit France immediately after Tenerife, England just before the PGA Championship, Denmark, Germany and Sweden before the U.S. Open, then Germany, Ireland and Scotland before the Open Championship in England. That’s a lot of countries and, unfortunately for Pelley and his members, a lot of governments and different regulations to deal with.