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Middle East unrest postpones Volvo Champions

Political unrest means there will be no return early next year to the Middle East state of Bahrain for some of the leading lights of golf it was announced on Monday.

Players like British Open champion Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie, Ian Poulter, 2008 US Open champion Padraig Harrington and Paul Casey, the winner of the inaugural Volvo Golf Champions staged in the island Kingdom, will not be coming back for a second bite of the apple in 2012.

Shortly after the 2011 tournament there were a number of deaths when authorities reacted to demonstrations. Following on from the decision to cancel the Formula One grand prix, the European Tour have dropped Bahrain from their 2012 calendar.

“In making the decision, Volvo and [the tournament organisers] International Management Group recognised the efforts being made by the government of Bahrain to return long-term stability to Bahrain following events earlier this year,” read a statement from the European Tour.

“However, with work still ongoing to resolve issues in Bahrain, and the need to confirm the venue by the end of July 2011, the difficult decision to postpone the event for 2012 was taken.”

Bahrain was the second stop on the Desert Swing this year, after the Abu Dhabi Championship, and before the Qatar Masters and the Dubai Desert Classic.

Tournament officials said the event will be rotated “between a very few select, world-class venues”. While the replacement venue for the Tour is still yet to be decided upon, it will not be in the Middle East, they added.

Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al-Khalifa, of the Bahrain economic development board, said:

"Bahrain is making significant strides in resolving issues that emerged in February and March. But we respect that a decision needed to be made now regarding the venue for next year's event. We look forward to welcoming the European Tour back to Bahrain in the near future."

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