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Japan women's golf tour opens after four-month coronavirus shutdown

KYODO

The women's professional golf tour in Japan opened its season Thursday following a roughly four-month delay due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, with the first round of the Earth Mondahmin Cup held behind closed doors.

Hinako Shibuno, the surprise winner of the 2019 British Open, and world No. 4 Nasa Hataoka, who has three victories on the U.S. LPGA Tour, were among the golfers who teed off after a one-hour rain delay at Camellia Hills Country Club in Chiba Prefecture.

The 72-hole tournament is the first event on the Japan LPGA Tour to be held without spectators, a protective measure many sports have taken against the spread of the virus. Instead, all four rounds will be broadcast live on the internet.

Some international players were unable to compete due to travel restrictions caused by the virus outbreak.

The Japan Ladies Professional Golfers' Association said Wednesday all 144 players and staff had been tested for the virus and none got positive results.

Four events on the tour scheduled for July have already been called off because of the health crisis. The association said in May that it would combine the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to the cancellation of more than half of the events originally set for this year.

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