Shane Lowry fears the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic could lead to not only the cancellation or ‘No Spectator’ policy at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open but also R&A officials possibly pulling the plug on his defence of the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s.
With the PGA Tour moving to cancel events in the lead up to the Masters, it is believed Augusta, seeking to avoid any negative press, is planning to cancel the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship on the Saturday prior to Masters week, the following day’s ‘Drive, Chip and Putt Contest’ and also Wednesday’s ‘Par-3 Contest’.
Lowry had yet to tee-off on day one of the Players when we caught up with him and while naturally concerned for the ramifications, if any, for the May 28th start to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mt. Juliet, he’s concerned too on a personal level for the well-being of his much-loved grandmother and also the grandmother of his wife, Iris.
“The Coronavirus fears has put the European Tour in a lot of bother with a tournament in Kenya cancelled and the latest news that next week’s Indian Open is off and the Czech Masters has been cancelled,” said Lowry.
“My big concern is what is going to happen to the Irish Open and I’m worried whether or not it will go ahead or whether the tournament and many others might have to be played behind closed doors.
“You need the crowds out here as they can be like an extra club in the bag and I know the support they gave me last year at Royal Portrush was unbelievable.
“I believe sadly there’s been a first death in Ireland and it will be very interesting to see what happens. I just hope everything will be okay and that it doesn’t get worst.
“At the end of the day, we’re being continually advised a person’s health and safety must come first with regards everything and sport is just a side thing.
“Playing golf is our chosen career and if we do have to take a week off or a couple of months off, it is not the end of the world. I just hope that everyone who may have unfortunately contracted the virus will fully recover as there are people dying.
“I would be worried for my own grandmother and Wendy’s granny, and people like that who are in the eighties.
“So, I would be disappointed if the Irish Open was to be cancelled or held without spectators but then in the bigger picture, the organising bodies have to be seen to be reacting to the crisis and stopping people travelling from countries that are seriously being affected.
“But then it would be just awful if we had to play the Irish Open with no crowds. It would just awful. I am looking forward so much to going to Mt. Juliet as the Open Champion but then you have to be worried of the bigger picture.
“But if they do call off The Open, I will get to be Open Champion for two years and I will have to go celebrating again (smiling).”