Open Championship winning hero Shane Lowry’s fears have been realised with confirmation that his defence of the 149th Open Championship at Royal St. George’s will now not take place until 2021.
This is following news on Monday that the R&A, as organisers of golf’s oldest Major, have decided to cancel the hosting in July of this year’s tournament.
Lowry and his young family have been residing in Florida since the cancellation of last month’s Players Championship and the news was not unexpected.
The R&A had afforded Lowry the courtesy of advising of its intentions as the Irishman, with the famed Claret Jug sitting beside him, released a tweet just minutes after the cancellation announcement expressing his disappointment.
“Like everyone else, I am very sad and disappointed that the R&A have had to cancel this year’s Open Championship,” said Lowry.
“At the end of the day, people’s health and safety come way before any golf tournament, and I am sure the R&A have thought long and hard about this and made their decision based everybody’s health and safety.
“You can trust me when I say the Claret Jug is going to be in safe hands for another year and I look forward to seeing you all at Royal St. George’s in 2021.”
Lowry had been asked at the Players Championship at such a likelihood of a cancellation of his Open Championship defence and he smiled in saying:
“I guess, 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.”.
It is a first time since World War II that The Open has been cancelled with the R&A’s CEO, Martin Slumbers indicating the decision was made with a ‘heavy heart’.
“Our absolute priority is to protect the health and safety of the fans, players, officials, volunteers and staff involved in The Open,” said Slumbers.
“We care deeply about this historic Championship and have made this decision with a heavy heart. We appreciate that this will be disappointing for a great many people around the world but this pandemic is severely affecting the UK and we have to act responsibly. It is the right thing to do.
“I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year but it is not going to be possible.
“There are many different considerations that go into organising a major sporting event of this scale. We rely on the support of the emergency services, local authorities and a range of other organisations to stage the Championship and it would be unreasonable to place any additional demands on them when they have far more urgent priorities to deal with.
“In recent weeks we have been working closely with those organisations as well as Royal St George’s, St Andrews Links Trust and the other golf bodies to resolve the remaining external factors and have done so as soon as we possibly could. We are grateful to all of them for their assistance and co-operation throughout this process.
“Most of all I would like to thank our fans around the world and all of our partners for their support and understanding. At a difficult time like this we have to recognise that sport must stand aside to let people focus on keeping themselves and their families healthy and safe. We are committed to supporting our wider community in the weeks and months ahead and will do everything in our power to help golf come through this crisis.”