Golf: Asian Tour returns in November after long Covid-19 hiatus, two events in S'pore in Jan 2022

All tournaments will be played in "bubbles", and players will need to be fully vaccinated to compete. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE (AFP) - Golf's Asian Tour resumes in November after a lengthy coronavirus hiatus, with four tournaments planned in Thailand and Singapore in the coming months, organisers said Tuesday (Oct 5).

The tour was halted following the Malaysia Open in March last year as Covid-19 prompted lockdowns and international border closures across the region.

The resumption starts on the Thai holiday island of Phuket with the US$1 million (S $1.36 million) Blue Canyon Championship from November 25-28, followed by the US$1 million Laguna Phuket Championship from December 2-5.

Fully vaccinated travellers can visit Phuket without quarantining.

There will be two more tournaments in Singapore in January held over consecutive weeks, the tour said, without giving further details.

One of the events is likely to be the SMBC Singapore Open at the Sentosa Golf Club (SGC). This year's competition was cancelled due to the pandemic. The 2020 edition was held on Jan 16-19.

The other tournament here will be held the week before. Both are pending approval from the authorities.

In April, Singapore welcomed back the HSBC Women's World Championship - cancelled in 2020 - with 69 of the planet's best female golfers. It was held at SGC with a daily cap of 250 fans, all of whom were corporate guests.

The Republic will also host the 10-team Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup from Dec 5 to Jan 1.

Top local golfer Quincy Quek, whose last international event was the 2020 Singapore Open, is looking forward to the Tour's return.

The 34-year-old, who has been coaching at the National Service Resort and Country Club during the Tour's hiatus, said: "There's just something about the atmosphere, the pressure, and that feeling when you play well, catch that wave and ride it.

"It will be great to be in an international tournament and have something to play for again. It was tough just practising with no end in sight.

"Of course, we are mindful of the rising Covid-19 cases in Singapore, but I'm sure the organisers will have measures in place."

All four tournaments will be played in "bubbles", and players will need to be fully vaccinated to compete.

Resuming the tour has been challenging due to "our reach across many countries and each of their Covid-related protocols," said Asian Tour commissioner and CEO Cho Minn Thant.

"We are confident of being able to complete our season despite several remaining challenges created by the pandemic."

The resumption will allow the tour to complete its Order of Merit and crown a champion. Thai star Jazz Janewattananond won the title in 2019.

Previous attempts to restart the Asian Tour were scuppered by fresh virus outbreaks across the region, which has been far slower to tee off than its US and European counterparts.

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