Johann Rupert, the chairman of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, has confirmed the tournament will not be played in 2020 while praising the “exemplary job” the Scottish Government is doing on during the pandemic.
The South African entrepreneur is an R&A member and one of golf’s premier philanthropists, having been closely involved with both the Dunhill Cup and the Dunhill Links since the tournaments started in 1985.
The Courier revealed on Monday that a decision had been made to cancel the 2020 event – the 20th time the Links Championship would have been played – because of the logisitical issues concerning the 300-strong field of professionals and amateurs who were set to play at three venues – the Old Course at St Andrews, Carnoustie Links and Kingsbarns Links – from October 1-4.
Mr Rupert, who is chief executive of Richemont, the parent company of the Dunhill brand, expressed his regret that the annual celebration of links golf would not take place this year.
But he added on Twitter, “The Scottish Government is doing an exemplary job of combatting the spread of the virus – I feel safe playing golf in Scotland.
“We therefore do not want to take the risk of one of our 300 plus participants inadvertently bringing COVID-19 back to St Andrews.”
A statement from the championship committee later confirmed the cancellation and echoed Mr Rupert’s comments.
“This is a real disappointment for ourselves and for all golf lovers. Alfred Dunhill has been supporting golf at the Home of Golf and in Scotland for 35 years, initially with the Alfred Dunhill Cup and for the past 19 years with the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
“We commend the Scottish Government in their resolute response to the pandemic. We do not wish to undermine their efforts or cause any undue risk to the communities that normally host us.
“Given the international nature of the event and in particular our large amateur field we felt that this was the prudent decision to take. The size and complexity of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, played over three courses with 168 professionals and 168 amateurs, makes it very difficult to stage safely within the current guidelines given the uncertainties we are all facing.
“Regrettably, therefore, we have decided to postpone the 20th Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to 2021, but very much look forward to returning next year.
“We have been working closely with the Scottish authorities and the European Tour to continue the event while mitigating against the pandemic, and we are very grateful for all their support.
“We would especially like to thank the staff of the three magnificent golf courses on which we normally stage the event and the surrounding communities who always make us so welcome.
“We also applaud the efforts of the European Tour in getting normal professional tournament golf up and running again and look forward to a full resumption in due course.”
The Dunhill Links, carrying a prizefund of $5 million, has become a fixture on the European Tour since 2001. Past champions include Scots Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher, Padraig Harrington (twice), Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie.