European Tour loses German and French events, still hopeful of resumption
The BMW International Open in Germany and the Open de France have joined the high-profile golf events to be cancelled this year as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.
The European Tour announced the cancellations today together with the postponement of the Scottish Open, which it hopes to be able to reschedule when the calendar for the rest of 2020 can be confirmed.
The German event, which was due to take place in Munich from 25 to 28 June, has been a mainstay of the European Tour since 1989 but has been called off after the federal government extended its ban on large events until the end of August.
The loss of the tournament, which had a prize fund of €2 million ($2.2 million), is a particular blow given that title sponsor BMW, the German car giant, is one of the main partners of the Tour.
The €1.5-million Open de France, which was scheduled to be played in Paris from 2 to 5 July, is also off with the French government having prolonged its ban on mass gatherings in the country until mid July.
The tournament is the oldest national open held in continental Europe, dating back to 1906.
July’s prestigious British Open, one of golf’s four majors, has already been cancelled as a result of the pandemic, with Royal St George’s in south-east England to stage the event in 2021 instead.
It was to have followed the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open in North Berwick, itself scheduled for 9 to 12 July, but the latter, one of the European Tour’s top-tier $7-million Rolex Series events, has now been delayed.
It is the second Rolex Series tournament to be postponed, joining the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, which was due to be held in County Kilkenny at the end of May.
In a statement, Keith Pelley, the chief executive of the European Tour, said: “The decision to cancel the BMW International Open, which has been a cornerstone of the European Tour calendar for three decades, and the Open de France, one of our most historic national Opens was made in consultation with our long-term partner BMW and the French Golf Federation respectively with public health and well-being the absolute priority for all of us.
“Both Germany and France have been significantly impacted by coronavirus, and our thoughts go out to everyone affected in both countries, as well as elsewhere around the world.
“In consultation with Aberdeen Standard Investments, VisitScotland and Rolex, we have also decided to postpone the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open, which is part of our prestigious Rolex Series. Discussions about the possibility of rescheduling this event will continue as we look at a variety of different scenarios for our schedule for when it is safe and permitted to resume playing. We will only announce details of these plans when we have clarity on the global situation.”
The European Tour was suspended in early March and all events are off until the end of July. There is no set date for a resumption, with the organisers having to restructure the calendar taking into account the new later dates for the other three majors – the US PGA Championship, the US Open and The Masters.
The BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in southern England, the Tour’s flagship event and the next Rolex Series tournament, is presently scheduled for 10 to 13 September, only a week before the US Open in New York.
Pelley remains hopeful there will be further events in 2020 saying in a message on the European Tour website today: "We cannot emphatically commit to a start date because, as I have said many times, we will not resume until it is safe, and we are permitted to do so.
"We now have 14 weeks with no tournaments, but those three and a half months are also the time where the global situation may well begin to show signs of improvement. There are already discussions centering around the easing of restrictions in several countries and everyone is optimistic that these can continue.
"This window also gives us the opportunity to continue working behind the scenes on a variety of scheduling options which would allow us to provide you with a busy calendar of golf to enjoy when we do resume."
USA's PGA Tour yesterday unveiled a schedule for the remainder of the year that envisages a return, without spectators, for the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas on 11 to 14 June.
The season is due to reach a climax with the Tour Championship in Atlanta on 4 to 7 September, a week later than originally planned.