Golf: Dunhill missing from 2002 Tour schedule

The European tour have announced their 2002 schedule with one notable absentee the Dunhill Links Championship won at St Andrews on Monday by Paul Lawrie.

The European tour have announced their 2002 schedule with one notable absentee - the Dunhill Links Championship won at St Andrews on Monday by Paul Lawrie.

At £3.5m the event was the richest ever staged in Britain, but needed an extra day because of bad weather and the sponsors told the tour yesterday that they were reviewing their options.

‘‘It was a huge shock to us when they said that,’’ admitted Keith Waters, the tour’s director of international policy.

A five-year contract had been signed to stage the event at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns and it was expected to move forward three weeks next season to October 3-6.

That is the week after the Ryder Cup, but the schedule released today now has a gap there.

Also missing are the Argentina Open, Sao Paulo Brazilian Open and Moroccan Open.

The European tour first incorporated South America two years ago, but Waters said that a combination of things had made it difficult to return next year.

‘‘Brazil was not looking certain and to go for just one event would be difficult,’’ he stated.

The Dubai Desert Classic and Qatar Masters in the Middle East are confidently expected to go ahead, however.

‘‘We have consulted government and airline officials and they said there is no reason not to travel,’’ added Waters.

‘‘But the players are all individuals and it’s their choice.

‘‘Dubai have assured us that Britain is as safe as Dubai.’’

The Dubai tournament this year featured Tiger Woods - he finished second to Thomas Bjorn after a double bogey seven at the last but the world number one has not yet indicated any intention to return next March.

Nearby Qatar have announced a doubling in prize money to around £1million, while returning to the schedule is the Canaries Open after a seven-year gap.

Overall the schedule will comprise a minimum of 44 Order of Merit tournaments with no fewer than 11 countries playing host.

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