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PGA Tour Series-China postpones events, shortens season over coronavirus

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PGA Tour Series-China has postponed a pair of qualifying tournaments and delayed the start of the now-shortened regular season amid growing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

Last week the developmental circuit announced a plan to shift the second of three qualifiers from China to Indonesia. But now that event and another upcoming qualifier in Thailand have both been postponed, along with the first four events of the regular season which was slated to begin in late March.

The tour is now "aiming" to play the two qualifiers in late April or early May, with the regular season expected to begin in late May or early June. The announcement comes on the heels of the LPGA's cancellation of a total of three upcoming events in Asia.

More than 40,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported worldwide, with Wuhan, China the epicenter and purported origination site of the virus. As of Feb. 11, the worldwide death toll had exceeded 1,100.

"We watched and scrutinized the situation closely, and we did not make this decision lightly," said Greg Carlson, PGA Tour Series-China executive director. "This is a major international health issue, and we will do everything possible to ensure the safety and well-being of our players and everybody else associated with these tournaments."

Originally scheduled for 14 regular season events, the circuit now plans to play only 10 events this season. The first qualifying tournament was held in January and open only to Chinese passport holders, while the two qualifiers currently in limbo were to be open to players from other countries. Carlson noted that tour officials are "still dealing with many unknowns related to the coronavirus, with new information coming in daily."

PGA Tour Series-China serves as a feeder tour for the Korn Ferry Tour, with the top five finishers on the season-long Order of Merit earning exempt Korn Ferry status for the following season, while Nos. 6-10 earn exemptions into the final stage of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School.