VIRGINIA WATER, England -- The 2012 Andalucía Masters, due to be played at Spain’s Valderrama Golf Club on Oct. 18-21, has been cancelled, the European Tour has announced.
The Junta de Andalucía confirmed this decision by letter, which they also announced by a press release.
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The Italian Open, which began in 1972, is being played for the third straight season at Royal Park I Roveri in Turin.
Despite discussions with the Royal Spanish Golf Federation and a formal legal agreement with the Junta de Andalucía, the tournament, won in 2011 by Sergio García, will not take place.
''This is extremely disappointing news to receive, especially at such a late date,'' said European Tour CEO George O'Grady. "We have been long term partners with the Junta for over 25 years.
"In that time we have seen together with many other events, the Volvo Masters staged in Andalucía from 1988-2008, two American Express World Golf Championships, won by Tiger Woods in 1999 and Mike Weir in 2000, and the Jewel in the Crown, the 1997 Ryder Cup played at Club de Golf Valderrama,'' he explained. "We have worked together to promote the region, and the Junta de Andalucía and The European Tour have enjoyed an exceptionally strong and committed long term partnership.
"We feel the disappointment not only for our Members and all committed to broadcasting and reporting this tournament and the region on a global scale, but also for the many visitors, especially from Northern Europe, who coincide their vacations with the tournament,'' he said. "We will work with the Junta to rectify this situation both now and in the future.''
News of Valderrama's cancellation comes amid ongoing concerns over the cost of staging of major sporting events in Spain due to the country's financial crisis. A change of government in the Andalucia region appears to have been the trigger for the move, with the new authorities keen to cut costs.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, O'Grady said the political situation in the region was the root cause of the issue and absolved Valderrama of any blame.
"This isn't Valderrama's problem. Valderrama has been tremendously helpful and supportive in the political arena,'' he said. "This is really [down to] a change of leadership in the area and how they do things.
"We always felt this one would be rescued, and we were prepared to go the extra mile with our own money, whether we cut the prize fund or things like that -- but you can't do it if people won't talk back the other way.
"This is a big change in political leadership,'' he added. ''The individual concerned probably doesn't understand what he's got [with the Andalucia Masters].''