Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson won't go to Korea after all
Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson had been scheduled to play in this week's Ballantine's Championship, which is set to return as usual to Incheon, South Korea, near Seoul. But early this morning, event organizers announced that the two PGA Tour stars had decided to stay home.
"They have reached this decision following perceived unrest on the Korean peninsula," the tournament said in a statement, reiterating that the event would proceed on schedule. "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 Foreign Office, who have not warned of any increased risk to those travelling to or within the country."
Tensions have risen in that part of Asia in recent weeks after the United Nations imposed further sanctions on North Korea for planning to go ahead with tests involving its nuclear program and its rocket program.
On Sunday, a South Korean news agency reported that North Korea had moved short-range missile launchers to its east coast, apparently indicating it was pushing ahead with preparations for a test launch, according to Reuters.
It would be "a stupid idea" to play at Ballantine's Championship, Spanish star Alvaro Quiros said earlier this month, announcing the change in his plans.
"I'm not going to play in Korea," the six-time European Tour winner said at the time. "I don't think it's a good moment to go there – it would be a stupid idea with the way things are. I don't want to mess with my life just to play in a golf tournament."
Dustin Johnson played the Ballantine’s in 2011 but missed last year with a back injury. Zach Johnson would have been playing his first pro event in Asia.
As things stand now, world No. 7 Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa will be the highest-ranked player in the field. Former PGA Champion Y.E. Yang, 1999 British Open winner Paul Lawrie and former European Ryder Cup player Paul Casey are also still scheduled to play.