Italian duo reinstated to Oman Open after Coronavirus fears

John Craven

Edoardo Molinari and Lorenzo Gagli talk to each other at the second tee during Day 1 of the Oman Open at Al Mouj Golf Complex (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

John Craven

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As the spread of Coronavirus continues to threaten world domination, it now seems no one is safe. Spawned from a seafood wholesale market in the little-known town of Huanan, Covid-19, as its known in the industry, has gone viral with more than 80,000 people said to be affected globally. That’s the equivalent of an All-Ireland final crowd at Croke Park, if you didn’t already know.

Just as well then that the World Health Organisation has stepped in to advise against such large gatherings of people. No Ireland -v- Italy at the Aviva next week. No World Indoor Athletics next month in Nanjing, and on Wednesday, two Italians, simply minding their own business in an Oman hotel room, almost became the latest victims of Covid-19.

On the morning of February 26th, 2020, Lorenzo Gagli woke up with the sniffles. What happened next very nearly robbed him of his childhood dream of teeing up at Al Mouj Golf in Muscat.

Assessed by the tournament’s on-site medical team, Gagli, nose running, was advised to withdraw from the competition, taking his compatriot and roommate, Edoardo Molinari with him. Molinari had woken up the picture of health that morning but it was a case of wrong place, wrong time for the spritely Italian.

In consultation with the Omani Ministry of Health, and in-line with current World Health Organisation guidelines, Gagli was subsequently tested for Coronavirus and immediately entered self-isolation as a precaution.

Molinari, who showed no signs of illness, but as a further precaution, also entered self-isolation in a separate room. If only he had thought of booking a separate room in the first place.

But as luck would have it, on Thursday morning, the Omani Ministry of Health reported that Gagli’s test results were negative. Apparently the double-hit of Berocca did the trick.

In fact, Gagli was feeling so chipper post-isolation that he accepted an offer to be reinstated into the Oman Open as an addition to the field. He teed off at 13.30… alongside Molinari… who was no doubt cursing his luck after promising to avoid his compatriot for the remainder of the week.

“This is a difficult global situation, one during which we will continue to follow all guidance given to us on preventive measures, and all decisions will continue to be made in the interests of overall public health,” said Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour.

And you have to feel for Pelley and co. Where the European Tour is clearly in difficulty having already been forced to postpone both the Maybank Championship and the Volvo China Open in April, the PGA Tour looks set to continue as normal for all eternity after the all-conquering, all-seeing supreme leader Donald Trump declared the United States as a “low risk” zone for an outbreak, thanks in no small part to Trump himself.

“We’ve [I] done a great job in keeping it down to a minimum,” the President said.

“Had I not made a decision very early on not to take people from a certain area, we wouldn’t be talking this way… I took a lot of heat; some people called me racist.”

Not I Donald. Keep doing your thing. Let the boys play!


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