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Lowry will take any option when it comes to Open defence

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Shane Lowry insists he’s prepared to wait until later this year or beyond to defend his Open Championship crown.

The St. Andrews-based R&A, organisers of golf’s oldest major, is under increasing pressure not only from sponsors and supporters but from golf’s major tours to make a decision on whether or not they intend to stick with the allocated July 16-19 host dates.

Each time a tournament is postponed to later in 2020, it obviously reduces the number of weeks available for those vying for dates.

There’s already talk, if The Open is eventually postponed, of Lowry making his defence either from 17-20 September or as late as November but that could prove a logistical nightmare getting 156 players off the tee in the limited amount of daylight available in the UK in winter.

As well, the R&A has some 2,000 shipping containers full of equipment, the majority of which is in Dubai, that it needs to deliver in order to start putting in place the infrastructure for golf’s oldest major.

The USGA announced on Friday the postponement of next month’s U.S. Women’s Open in Houston, Texas to 10-13 December with the men’s U.S. Open from 18-21 June in Coronavirus-hit New York next to be shifted.

Of course, Lowry would dearly love to be heading to Royal St. George’s in July but as he remains ‘house-bound’ in Florida, the Clara golfer would take any option.

“I’d love to defend the tournament when it’s supposed to be on in July, but if it was on at all this year then I think it would be a result,” said Lowry.

“I also would be happy whatever they decide as it means remaining the Open champion longer!

“Generally, down there in Kent they get a very good summer, so the course is generally burnt when The Open goes to Royal St George’s but then if it’s held in September, I’d imagine it’ll still be warm.

“That’s the beauty of the Open Championship, everyone knows when they go there that they’ll have some different or weird weather thrown at them.”

Then there’s the issue of the Ryder Cup set for the final week in September with calls, given the pushback already of two of the four men’s majors to later this year, for the event to be rescheduled for 2021.

Again, if the Ryder Cup does not move from its September date and The Open is shifted, you could be looking at a back-to-back fortnight featuring The Open and the Ryder Cup – the first in England and the other 6,260kms away along the shores of Lake Michigan.

“I’ve not played any Ryder Cups and that’s my No 1 goal this year, so if I am going after The Open then I’d be happy to be,” Lowry said.

“The only thing is that the 24 players playing in the Ryder Cup will be playing in The Open as well, so they’ll all have to make that trip to Whistling Straits on Sunday evening or Monday and get on with the week.

“It’ll be a complaint that I would be happy to have in September.”

 

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The hazard of playing under coronavirus rules

Golf under coronavirus restrictions is a welcomed change of pace from lockdown cabin fever but it's also raising interesting questions that could change the game over time