R&A confident Lowry’s Open defence will go ahead

Bernie McGuire
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R&A confident Lowry’s Open defence will go ahead

Shane Lowry (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Shane Lowry’s fears will be eased with news from the R&A that arrangements for the hosting of the 148th Open Championship at Royal St. George’s in Kent are going ahead as planned.

Martin Slumbers, CEO of the St. Andrews based body, issued a statement on Thursday stating firstly the cancellation of two amateur events run by the R&A but delivering a positive note on the hosting of golf’s oldest major and the hopeful go ahead also of the AIG Women’s British Open.

“We are closely monitoring the constantly-moving situation in the COVID-19 pandemic and carefully following the advice issued to us by the UK Government, relevant health authorities and our medical consultants,” said Slumbers.

“We have decided to cancel two of our international amateur events – The R&A Student Tour Series Final at St Andrews and Carnoustie and The R&A Girls’ U16 Amateur Championship at Fulford, which were both due to take place next month. We have contacted all those involved. We will keep the status of the rest of the amateur championship season under review.

“Looking to our professional events this summer, we are undertaking a comprehensive evaluation of our plans to stage The 149th Open at Royal St George’s and the AIG Women’s British Open at Royal Troon, which are four and five months away respectively. This includes examining a range of scenarios for staging the championships, with our focus on proceeding as planned, as well as considering other contingency options available to us.”

Slumbers added, “Our absolute priority is to ensure the safety of players, fans, officials, staff and all involved in our championships and that will be at the forefront of our thinking as we monitor developments.

“We have some time before we start building the infrastructure at both venues and so we are keeping the scheduled dates in place for The Open and AIG Women’s British Open at this point. We recognise that this is a rapidly changing situation and we will keep everyone informed of any changes to our plans. These are difficult times but we are bearing in mind our responsibility for what’s right for golf and most importantly for society.”

It would seem now, given the R&A’s positivity, that a worst-case scenario would be a postponement of golf’s oldest major while in the bigger picture, the R&A would desperately wish for 149th Open to go ahead and not spoil already well-in-place plans for next year’s milestone 150th Open at St. Andrews.

Lowry, as reported by Irish Golfer Magazine, previously expressed concern that his defence at Royal St. George’s might suffer the same fate as a number of PGA and European Tour events.

“Naturally, I would be very disappointed if The Open was to be cancelled but then in the bigger picture, the organising bodies are reacting very professionally to the crisis and we will all be guided by their advice,” said Lowry.

Sadly, the Irishman has now lost the opportunity to tee-up in both the Masters and the PGA Championship as the reigning Open Champion, even though both Majors could be held later in the year.

As well, the future of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is now in serious doubt after the European Tour announced the postponing of the Made in Denmark and the cancelling of the Golf Sixes in Spain.

It takes to 10 the number of Race to Dubai events in succession since earlier this month to be either postponed or cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The next event on the schedule that could be affected is the 65th Irish Open at Mount Juliet from May 28th to 31st.

Meantime…

There is another golfing casualty of the on-going Coronavirus pandemic and that is that the R&A has cancelled the now annual ‘Media Facilitation Day’ planned for Royal St. George’s on Tuesday April 21st.

Is it hoped however that the worldwide concern will have eased considerably and The Open will go ahead so that Shane Lowry can be honoured by the Association of Golf Writers (AGW) with his award for 2019 AGW Golfer of the Year at the Association’s annual dinner to be held on the Tuesday of The Open.

 

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