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Australian Tour Championship is cancelled

The PGA Tour of Australasia canceled this year's Tour Championship golf tournament because it couldn't find a major sponsor for the event.

The championship, which was set to decide the winner of the 2002 Order of Merit, was due to be played Dec. 12-15 in Sydney. The cancellation means the 2002 Australasian Tour schedule will end a week earlier with the Australian Masters in Melbourne.

Concerns about the global economy have forced companies to reign in their sponsorship spending during the past year, forcing organizers to cancel events that fail to attract financial backing.

``It's no secret that the international business and sponsorship market has struggled over the past 12 months and the Australasian market has been no exception,'' PGA Tour of Australasia chairman Wayne Grady said in a statement.

The tournament was also cut from the 2003 schedule, which was reduced to 10 main events. Ten smaller events will be added at a later date, the tour said.

The 2003 tour, which is split in half to avoid playing through the Southern Hemisphere's winter, starts Jan 23-26 with the New Zealand Open and culminates with December's Australian PGA Championship.

The 2002 Order Of Merit winner gets exemptions to several international tournaments next year, including the British and U.S. Opens. Craig Parry (A$479,851) currently heads the money list from Peter O'Malley ($383,142).

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