Harding considers options as golfers face scheduling clash

South African golfer Justin Harding will need to reassess his plans when the season is relaunched. Picture: Getty Images

Elite golfers face a challenge in an attempt to juggle events when the European and American tours resume.

Top South African golfer Justin Harding says he faces a predicament in arranging his schedule once professional golf resumes because he plays in both Europe and the United States and has to juggle mussed up schedules due to quarantine and travel regulations of the various countries hosting events.

It is a problem facing many golfers as the US PGA Tour hopes to resurrect its schedule on June 11 with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial, and the European Tour is supposedly going to start again at the end of July with a run of events in the United Kingdom. But many of the world’s top golfers hop between the European and American tours, which now becomes a logistical nightmare with all the quarantining and testing that will be required for international travel.

“The European Tour is going to try put on four or five weeks of action in the UK, and hopefully there will be reduced quarantine measures by the end of that otherwise it’s going to be a scheduling nightmare,” Harding said in a Sunshine Tour virtual press conference.

“If you want to play in America you have to go 14 days beforehand, and going to Europe you also need 14 days’ quarantine. The PGA Championship is scheduled for the second week of August, so if you play in the British Masters from July 23 then you miss the quarantine deadline.

“The Korn Ferry Tour (the secondary US tour for which Harding has full status) sent out a 57-page memorandum on the different regulations for when they start on June 8, but I have no intention of playing a full schedule on that tour. I need the world ranking points from the European Tour, and it doesn’t make sense quarantining for six weeks just to play three tournaments.”

And before anyone accuses the 34-year-old world number 111 of being lazy, it is a viewpoint shared by many other golfers, and Harding has proven his credentials by playing all over the world in recent years.

One trip to the United States that he is willing to make, however, is for the Masters, which has been rescheduled for November 12-15.

Harding made an impressive debut at the Masters last year, finishing in a tie for 12th, just five shots behind winner Tiger Woods, earning himself an invitation for this year’s Major.

“I’m certainly happy that the Masters wasn’t cancelled like the Open Championship. I’m dying to go back again and I wasn’t in a great run of form when we stopped playing golf, but hopefully I can go to Augusta in November and be competitive,” Harding said.

“It’s a very strategic course and you need to put the ball in the right places, but I have no idea what the course will be like at that time of year.

“I’m sure Augusta will look different. I think it will be quite firm after it was quite wet last year. It will also be the debuts of Erik van Rensburg and Christiaan Bezuidenhout there, so that’s going to be good fun. I think they’re the most upset about golf being suspended because they were both flying, whereas I had had a dip in form which I was trying to play through, so the 10-week break might be good for me.”

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