Players arrive in Africa, event canceled
The volcanic eruption in Iceland has caused plenty of headaches for those trying to travel in and out of Europe. It also left nine U.S. mini-tour players in Africa without an event to play.
Nine players from the eGolf Professional Tour – Frank Adams III, Chris Baker, Jesse Smith, Martin Ureta, Nico Bollini, Christopher Cannon, Derrick Bohannon, James Sacheck and Jhared Hack – arrived in Morocco on Sunday to play the Challenge Tour’s Moroccan Golf Classic. The event was scheduled to begin Wednesday.
Challenge Tour officials decided Sunday to delay the event because of “ongoing severe disruption to air travel throughout the majority of European airspace,” Challenge Tour director Alain De Soultrait said in a statement.
The event is now expected to be played May 13-16.
The eGolf players arrived Sunday morning after taking a red-eye flight from New York City. Adams said only about 20 other players, not including the eGolf contingent, had arrived in Morocco by the time the event was canceled.
Adams, Baker, Smith, Ureta, Bollini, Cannon, Bohannon and Sacheck earned spots in the field for their finishes at the eGolf tour’s Golf in Morocco Classic, which was held March 24-27.
Hack, a former Western Amateur champion, competed in Morocco earlier this year, at the European Tour’s Trophee Hassan II, after receiving one of two sponsor exemptions allocated to eGolf. Hack finished 64th.
The eGolf exemptions are part of a growing relationship between the tour and the Association de Trophee Hassan, which is trying to grow the game in Morocco, in part by introducing foreign players to golf in the country.
“I was extremely disappointed (with the delay),” Adams, who won the Golf in Morocco Classic, said via email. “It was a goal of mine to qualify for this event, and I have been looking forward to this experience since the (Golf in Morocco Classic).”
The financial hit to the players was minimal. The Association de Trophee Hassan paid for players to fly from New York to Casablanca, and covered all on-the-ground expenses. Players only had to pay to fly to New York. Adams’ JetBlue flight from Raleigh, N.C., to New York cost about $200, he said.
The eGolf players were scheduled to take part in a pro-am Tuesday, and head back to the U.S. Thursday. It was unsure if the ATH would cover expenses for a return trip to Morocco.
“I hope to play the tournament regardless if my expenses are covered or not,” Ureta said. “It is a great opportunity ATH is giving us and it is only fitting for us to take full advantage of it. If they take care of the expenses, it is an added bonus.”