Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson have decided to skip the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea, according to a report from Reuters (via Yahoo!):
American Ryder Cup golfers Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson have pulled out of the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea this week because of the political tension in the region.
"They have reached this decision following perceived unrest on the Korean peninsula," the sponsors of the European Tour event said in a statement on Monday.
There has been hostility in the region for weeks because of United Nations sanctions imposed on North Korea for a nuclear test.
You can hardly blame an American athlete for wanting to avoid the region. North Korea's regime under Kim Jong Un continues to threaten to strike South Korea without warning and has missiles in place ready to fire, and Kim continues to hurl venom at the United States.
According to Reuters' report, the top-ranked player in the tournament will be No. 7 Louis Oosthuizen, while other recognizable players will include South Korea's Yang Yong-eun, British Open champion Paul Lawrie and Paul Casey.
While the American pair will skip the tournament due to political unrest in the region, they also sacrifice the chance to win the $2.88 million prize for first place.
Dustin Johnson has had a very solid season, with four top-13 finishes including a win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and a 13th-place finish at last week's Masters. He currently ranks No. 17 in the world.
Zach Johnson hasn't been as successful, with just one top-20 finish on the year and a ranking of No. 30. He finished a disappointing 35th at the Masters.
The decision by each player to skip the tournament is hardly surprising.
Alvaro Quiros of Spain recently said he would skip the tournament, according to Tony Jimenez of Reuters (via the Chicago Tribune):
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.
Via that report, Quiros was the only player to note beforehand he wouldn't want to play in the tournament prior to Zach Johnson and Dustin Johnson pulling out of the event.
Despite the pair pulling out of the tournament, plenty of talented players will still compete. Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat will look to win the event for the second year in a row against some of the top stars currently playing on the Asian Tour, including Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar.