Ballentine To Go Ahead Despite Withdrawls

Ballantine's Championship organisers have given assurances that this week's event in South Korea will go ahead after two of its biggest stars withdrew over fears of conflict with North Korea.

American Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, and Dustin Johnson, the world No.19, pulled out over "perceived unrest on the Korean peninsula" following weeks of military tensions between Seoul and nuclear-armed Pyongyang.

"Ballantine's is disappointed to announce that Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson have informed us they will no longer be attending the Ballantine's Championship," a European Tour statement said.

The withdrawal of the American Ryder Cup players deprives the European Tour and Asian Tour event of two of its top players. But the tours were at pains to point out that, "Ballantine's can, however, confirm a list of world-class players attending the Ballantine's Championship, including Louis Oosthuizen, YE Yang, Bae Sang Moon, Paul Lawrie, Thomas Bjorn, Thongchai Jaidee, Marcus Fraser and Paul Casey.”

The two Koreas have been locked in spiralling tensions since the North carried out its third atomic test in February, with increasingly hostile exchanges including threats of nuclear war and precision missile strikes.

A European Tour spokesman added, "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.”

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