2020 champions Min Woo Lee and Hee Young Park. Credit: Golf Australia.
2020 champions Min Woo Lee and Hee Young Park. Credit: Golf Australia.

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting border closures along with international travel restrictions have forced the cancellation of the Vic Open scheduled for February, 2021.

This follows last week’s regretful cancellation of the summer’s other premier golf events — the Australian PGA Championship, Australian Open and the Women’s Australian Open.

The three organisations involved — Golf Australia, the PGA of Australia and the ALPG – hoped to find an arrangement to preserve the Vic Open, but they confirmed today that this was not possible, for similar reasons to the withdrawal of the other big events.

The men’s Vic Open dates to 1957, and the last year in which it was not played is 2008. The women’s Vic Open began in 1988, went into abeyance in 1992 and resumed in 2012 when the groundbreaking mixed concept was launched, including men and women in the same event at the same venue.

The concept has won worldwide applause in the golf fraternity and the Vic Open’s prizemoney grew from $150,000 in 2012 to $3 million this year at 13th Beach on the Bellarine Peninsula, with equal prizemoney for men and women.

“These are disappointing decisions to make, no doubt,” said James Sutherland, Golf Australia’s chief executive.

“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. We’ve tried to make it happen, but the call had to be made.”

Sutherland said the major issues in the decision to cancel included provision of a safe environment for the players during a pandemic, and lack of certainty on quarantine and border issues, leaving the officials with no chance of drawing the type of international field that the event deserved.

“We’ve taken advice from the relevant domestic government authorities and looked at the contingencies including the creation of a ‘bubble’, but they are not viable. It left us in a position where our field strength would have been severely compromised.

“We’re disappointed for golf fans and for all the hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers who have helped make the Vic Open so successful, and we’re disappointed for the players who lose an opportunity to ply their trade.

“However, we will view it as temporary and what we need to do now is to focus on the future of all our events and work towards getting them back better than ever for the summer of 2021/22 and beyond.”

About Richard Fellner

Winner of multiple Australian Golf Media Awards, including Best Photojournalism and Best Column, Inside Golf Group Editor Richard Fellner is the quintessential Golf Tragic, having played the game for over 50 years (but has never gotten any better!) He has played and reviewed courses all over the world, and has interviewed many of the great players of the game (including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Greg Norman). Richard is a member of both the Australian Golf Writers Association and the Golf Society of Australia, and he is a regular guest on many Australian "sports talk" radio shows and networks, including ABC Grandstand, SEN 1116, Melbourne Talk Radio 1377, 2GB and others. Follow Richard Fellner on Quora

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