Gavin Moynihan is gunning to get his European Tour journey back on the road, though he won’t be looking forward to his next date with the testing equipment for Covid-19.
The Dubliner arrived on the Continent on Monday ahead of this week’s Austrian Open as professional golf returns to the Main Stage in Europe after the PGA Tour’s return back in June.
Flying alongside good friends Niall Kearney and Robin Dawson from Dublin with masks and hand sanatizer in full-swing, all was going swimmingly until Moynihan was put in the chair at half seven on Tuesday morning for his first test for Covid-19.
“It was actually horrific to be honest,” he laughed. “It’s like a minute and a half long but aw man, it’s not nice!
“There are two tests but one swab goes straight up your nose and it was quite painful – only for four or five seconds – but I was surprised by how far up your nose they go!
“Everyone said the same thing, they were surprised by how intrusive it was but it was only sore for a few minutes after and it was grand then. There was a bit of a dry swab in your mouth that triggered a bit of a gag reflex as well but if this is what we have to do to get back playing, it’s only a small inconvenience.”
Moynihan admits he didn’t need to be asked twice when the opportunity to take flight to Austria arrived. He’d travelled to Diamond Country Club for the Shot Clock Masters back in 2018 and although he had little joy that time around after following an opening 71 with a second round 79, the 25-year old is ready for the challenge that this week should bring.
“It’s one of the tougher courses we play,” he admits. “It’s quite firm with slopey greens and it’s windy at the moment so if it stays like this it will be a tough week.”
Moynihan has been taking advantage of Ireland’s extensive golf offering of late, keeping the blades sharp while the Tour organised its restart. And although he has a 58 around Corballis to show for his efforts, he accepts his return to Tour life and competitive golf will be an altogether different proposition.
“A few of us went to Waterville and Tralee last week but I hadn’t touched a club since Thursday and felt a bit rusty on Tuesday in practice because I’ve been playing so much lately,” he said.
“But yeah, my game’s alright. It’s great to be back. I’ll play this week and next week but it’s hard to know about the UK-swing. I’m not sure right now who’ll get into them. I heard the South African boys might not be able to get in because their visas are taking ages but it’s all a bit up in the air. I could play three, five, none – I’ve no idea really but hopefully I’ll get into a few and be able to take advantage of the starts.”
As for the general feeling on-site in Austria, it’s as normal as it can be, Moynihan says and although things are undoubtedly different, the general atmosphere amongst the players is that operations are running the right way with the safety of all those involved paramount to the restart’s success.
“Everything has been well set-up,” he says. “We’re in three balls for the practice rounds where it’s normally four. It’s 12-minute gaps too so you actually feel like you’re on the course by yourself which is nice. And even on the practice putting green, there’s a bit of wood in the hole that keeps the ball up out of it but you still get a feel for the cut of the hole.
“Then it’s a lot like home. No rakes in the bunkers until tournament days and only two people per table in the clubhouse. Myself and Robin Dawson had food here last night and Niall Kearney and his Dad were together opposite us so it’s very well organised that way.
“It’s relatively normal but the officials are very strict. You see our Tournament Director a lot more than you’d normally see him making sure everyone is doing the right thing.
“After what you saw in America at places like Hilton Head, they seemed fairly relaxed about everything whereas the European Tour is always a little more efficient with those things, I feel, so everyone’s feeling good.”
Moynihan gets his tournament bid underway on Thursday at 12.15pm Irish time.
All Irish tee-times (Irish time)
9.25am – Robin Dawson
12.15 – Gavin Moynihan
12.35 – Niall Kearney