Rather inevitability, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open – one of the blue chip €7 million Rolex Series events on the PGA European Tour – scheduled for Mount Juliet next month, has been postponed, becoming the 10th tournament on that circuit to be put on the back burner due to the coronavirus pandemic.

There remains a hope that the tournament can be accommodated later in the season; but, with no end in sight to the Covid-19 crisis, and an already packed schedule should tournament play eventually restart, there is a strong possibility it won’t take place at all this year.

Graeme McDowell, who assumed the role of tournament host, taking over from Paul McGinley, said: “As important [as the tournament is] to all of us, everyone’s health is our early concern. My thoughts are with everyone affected by the crisis and I hope everyone keeps safe and well during this difficult times.”

The Irish Open follows a growing list of tournaments which have been either postponed or cancelled, with the Kenyan Open, the Indian Open, the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, the US Masters, the Maybank Championship in Malaysia, the China Open, the Andalucian Masters, the US PGA and the Made in Denmark tournament already put on hold on the European Tour schedule.

Keith Pelley, the European Tour chief executive, in a statement, said public health and safety was “our absolute priority” in coming to the decision to postpone the tournament, which was due to take place on May 28th-31st and which had commitments from world number one Rory McIlroy, defending champion Jon Rahm and British Open champion Shane Lowry.

“We will continue to evaluate all aspects of our 2020 European Tour schedule, and discussions on the rescheduling of postponed events will remain ongoing until we have clarity on the global situation,” added Pelley.

Colm McLoughlin, executive vice-chairman and CEO of title sponsors Dubai Duty Free, supported the decision to postpone the tournament. “The most important thing right now is the health and safety of all the players, the spectators, the sponsors and organisers, so it’s the right decision,” he said.

Damien Gaffney of Tetrarch Capital, owners of the Mount Juliet estate, said: “As disappointed as we all are, the decision to postpone the event is absolutely the right one and in keeping with Government measures to combat the spread of Covid-19, this is far more important right now . . . we must all now play our part in safeguarding everyone’s health and safety and we will look to welcoming guests back to Mount Juliet when the time is right.”



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