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Tuesday April 23, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday April 26, 2013 MYT 12:37:05 AM
SEOUL: Ballantine's Championship organisers have given assurances that this week's event in South Korea will go ahead after two of its biggest stars withdrew over fears of conflict with North Korea.
America's Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, and Dustin Johnson, the world number 19, pulled out over "perceived unrest on the Korean peninsula" following weeks of military tensions between Seoul and nuclear-armed Pyongyang.
"Ballantine's is disappointed to announce that Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson have informed us they will no longer be attending the Ballantine's Championship," a European Tour statement said.
"They have reached this decision following perceived unrest on the Korean peninsula and can no longer assure their commitment to this year's event."
The withdrawal of the American Ryder Cup players deprives the $2.8 million European Tour and Asian Tour event, starting on Thursday at Blackstone Golf Club near Seoul, of two of its top players.
However, other headliners including Louis Oosthuizen, Y.E. Yang and Paul Casey have confirmed their attendance, and the European Tour said it was keeping fully briefed on security developments.
The two Koreas have been locked in spiralling tensions since the North carried out its third atomic test in February, with increasingly hostile exchanges including threats of nuclear war and precision missile strikes.
"Ballantine's and event organisers, the European Tour, would like to reiterate that the tournament is going ahead as planned with a full field of European, Asian and Korean PGA Tour members," the statement said.
"Ballantine's has been kept fully up to date on relevant issues and the European Tour has also been liaising with key decision makers, including the (British) Foreign Office, who have not warned of any increased risk to those travelling to or within the country.
"We are looking forward to hosting a number of the world's leading players and some of Korea's best golfing talent at the Ballantine's Championship later this week." - AFP
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