Pioneering men's and women's Vic Open falls victim to pandemic

Melbourne (AFP) –


Australia's innovative Vic Open, the only event on the world's professional golf tours where men and women tee off in alternate groups on the same course, fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic Thursday.

Jointly sanctioned by the men's European Tour and the US-based elite women's LPGA Tour, it was due to be played in February at a course south of Melbourne.

But difficulties around providing a safe environment for players and a lack of certainty on quarantine and border issues proved too complicated.

Its cancellation follows Australia's three biggest tournaments -- the men's and women's Australian Open and the PGA Championship -- all being called off last week for similar reasons.

"We're very proud of how far the Vic Open came since the mixed concept was put together, and we're more than aware of how popular this event has become," said Golf Australia chief James Sutherland.

"We've tried to make it happen, but the call had to be made."

The tournament is unique in having male and female fields sharing the same 72 holes over the four tournament days playing for equal prize money.

It has been running as a dual event since 2012 and took on added significance in 2019 when the European Tour and the LPGA Tour jointly sanctioned it for the first time, increasing the tournament's cash purse.

One of Australia's most exciting young talents, Min Woo Lee, won the men's event this year with South Korea's Park Hee-young claiming the women's title.