Golf

Coronavirus wipes out early-season LPGA golf swing in Asia

The HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore and the LPGA Thailand were cancelled on Monday (Feb 10) because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The US LPGA Tour has now been forced to scrap all three of its lucrative early-season events in Asia, following their announcement 10 days ago to cancel the China’s Blue Bay LPGA.

The World Championship, won last year by world No. 2 Park Sung Hyun, is one of the most prestigious on the US LPGA Tour, with the world’s top-20 players and the previous year’s Major winners all participating.

The three-event swing would have carried in excess of US$5 million (S$6.9m) in prize money.

The coronavirus outbreak has affected several other sports including football and athletics, mainly in China.

“Due to the continued health concerns and recent advisories in some Asian countries that large-scale events should be cancelled or postponed as a result of the coronavirus, the LPGA and its partners have made the decision to cancel the  Honda LPGA Thailand and the HSBC Women’s World Championship,” an LPGA Tour statement said.

An elite field of 66, including defending champion Park, fellow South Korean and world No. 1 Ko Jin
Young and third-ranked Nelly Korda of the US, were due to compete for a US$1.5m purse at Sentosa Golf Club from Feb 27.

A purse of US$1.6m would have been up for grabs at the Siam Country Club in the Thai resort of Pattaya from Feb 20 and US$2.1m at the Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Course on Hainan Island from March 5.

LPGA Tour players are currently in Adelaide where the Australian Open begins on Thursday after Sunday’s conclusion of the Vic Open, won by South Korea’s Park Hee Young in Geelong.

After that the LPGA tour will resume at the Founder’s Cup in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 19.

“The health and safety of our players, fans and everyone working on the event is always our highest priority,” the LPGA statement said.

“While we are disappointed that these tournaments will not take place this season, we look forward to returning to Asia soon.”

The Tour’s next scheduled Asia event is the LPGA Shanghai, China, in October.

Singapore has stepped up its disease alert level, with event organisers advised to cancel or defer non-essential large-scale events. The country has also barred the entry of travellers who had been to China recently and suspended issuing visas for Chinese passport holders.

The coronavirus has killed more than 900 people and infected 40,000 people in China. The SARS-like virus is believed to have emerged in the central city of Wuhan.

Other major sporting events to be cancelled or postponed in China because of the virus, include the World Indoor Athletics Championships, World Cup skiing, a Formula E race, and Olympic qualifying events in boxing, women’s football and basketball.

China has also suspended all domestic football, with the start of the top-flight Chinese Super League postponed indefinitely.

Other prestigious Asian sports events such as Formula One’s Chinese and Vietnamese Grands Prix and the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, all scheduled to take place in April, remain in doubt. – AFP

SingaporeHSBC Women's World Championshippark sung hyunsentosacoronavirus