No Australian Open disappoints top golfers
Australian No.1 Cameron Smith has expressed his disappointment at the cancellation of the men's and women's national golf championships for the second year running.
Golf Australia boss James Sutherland on Thursday blamed "shifting quarantine and travel restrictions" for aborting plans for a postponed Australian Open in early 2022 and the canning of the scheduled women's Open in February.
Despite the Queensland border currently being closed to NSW, Victoria and the ACT, officials are pressing ahead with the staging of the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast from January 13-16.
The cancellation of last year's Australian Open, Australian Women's Open and Australian PGA Championship caused an uproar among the playing ranks.
Many touring professionals had to give up the game, with others relying on JobKeeper payments to ride out the crisis.
Despite pleas from players for officials to think outside the square to ensure the Open events could proceed in some shape or form, even with reduced prize money, Golf Australia deems it impossible to forge ahead with the 2021 edition.
The cancellation means there will be no Australian Open contested for only the second year since WWII.
"Obviously it's pretty disappointing," Smith said after the first round of the US PGA Tour's CJ CUP event in Las Vegas on Friday.
"I love going back home and playing golf in front of the home crowd, but hopefully soon we can get back there and start playing some golf.
"It seems like forever. I haven't been back for a couple years, I haven't seen my family for a couple years, so it's been pretty tough. I'll be the first one over there pegging it up."
Many of Australia's touring professionals are bemused as to why the national opens were cancelled more than three months out, especially with most of the country emerging from lockdown and borders expected to be opened before the new year.
The Oceania Golf Players' Association, of which major champion Hannah Green is a director, are frustrated about not being consulted by Golf Australia.
"The OGPA are extremely disappointed in the cancellation of both the 2022 Women's Australian Open and the 2021 Men's Australian Open," it said in a statement posted on social media.
"We believe it is fundamentally wrong that the players were not involved in the decision-making or problem-solving process with respect to getting a 2022 Australian Open up-and-running in some form.
"This is yet another point demonstrating to us the absolute necessity for a strong and capable players' association to represent the players' interest in important matters like this."
Sutherland said the decision to cancel the two flagship events "has not been made lightly".
"But we believe it to be the right outcome under the current circumstances," he said.
"The international element means shifting quarantine and travel restrictions wreak havoc on planning and, with our marquee players living abroad, the challenge is even greater."
Meanwhile, three-time PGA Tour of Australasia winner Jordan Zunic welcomed Golf NSW's announcement on Friday that the six-event Regional Open Series - postponed from June due to COVID - will definitely take place during the summer.
"At the moment, pretty much anything to play in is great," Zunic said.
"With the year that's been, this is some light at the end of the tunnel for the guys.
"This will boost the morale of a lot of professionals around."
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