Australian Open postponed from November due to COVID-19

FILE PHOTO: Golf - Australian Open Golf Tournament - Sydney, Australia - 20-11-2016 Jordan Spieth of the United States (2nd L) poses with the Stonehaven Cup after winning the Australian Open alongside his girlfriend Annie Verret (L), his caddie Michael Greller (R) and Greller's wife Ellie. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The Australian Open, the country’s oldest and most prestigious golf event, has been postponed from its scheduled staging in November due to COVID-19, organisers said on Tuesday.

Golf Australia had planned to stage the 105th edition at Melbourne’s Kingston Heath Golf Club later this year but were now looking at other dates in early 2021, the governing body said.

Melbourne is midway through a six-week lockdown as authorities battle a surge in COVID-19 infections.

“These are very challenging times for all Australians and the uncertainty the global pandemic has caused makes it very difficult to be definitive in relation to future dates at this time,” Golf Australia operations manager Simon Brookhouse said in a statement.

“Then, when you consider the rescheduled major championships, particularly the (U.S.) Masters from 12-15 November, assembling the customary world-class field was also becoming increasingly difficult.”

The 2020 tournament was to have been the first staged outside Sydney in 15 years.

“We would like to think we could still play the Australian Open this summer and will work with ... Kingston Heath Golf Club to find a date suitable for all,” Golf Australia’s Brookhouse said.

“However, it may have to be in the January-March 2021 window with so many variables still to play out.”

Australian Matt Jones won last year’s tournament at The Australian Golf Club.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell