Coronavirus is Disrupting Golf Tournaments Worldwide

by Maura Hutchinson

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard Coronavirus is pretty much everywhere and people are starting to panic. Even the world of professional golf is taking a hit from the Covid-19. Here’s a rundown of what’s been cancelled or postponed due to the infection.

Last month the LPGA was one of the first golf tours to cancel a tournament due to the threat of Coronavirus. After announcing the postponement of the Blue Bay LPGA, the Tour stated the health and safety of their players, fans and all those working on the event was their number one priority. The Honda LPGA Thailand and HSBC Women’s World Championship was soon added to their list.

While the PGA Tour has decided to delay the PGA TOUR Series-China until later this year, they released a statement earlier this week saying there are no other planned schedule changes at the moment. Although they were quick to add that they “are establishing additional protocols to promote the health and safety of all participants and fans” at their tournaments. They will be regularly reviewing the situation in accordance with CDC and WHO reports.

The European Tour has now postponed the Kenya Open, Maybank Championship as well as the Volvo China Open. But perhaps most newsworthy from the European Tour, is the mandatory quarantining of Italian players that has happened over the past two weeks. Ahead of The Oman Open, Edoardo Molinari and Lorenzo Gagli were both withdrawn from the tournament, after Gagli showed signs of being ill. Since they were sharing a hotel room, Molinari was also forced to self isolate. Once negative tests were returned, the pair was then reinstated.

“It's an inexplicable decision,” Gagli stated at the time. “Only us two have been excluded from the tournament, but I arrived in Muscat last Sunday and over the last few days I've worked out in the gym with dozens of other players. I ate with them and traveled by bus with them.”

Adding, “If there was a risk of contagion, then they would have to isolate dozens of golfers and cancel the tournament.”

Someone who saw the funny side of the pair’s ordeal was Molinari’s brother, Francesco. The 2018 Open Champion admitted this week that he laughed about the situation when he first heard.

“I was laughing, actually. If you know my brother, of all people, for it to happen to him. I just found it a little bit funny at the beginning,” Francesco Molinari said. “Obviously, I spoke to him and he was more annoyed than scared because he was feeling well. He had no symptoms.”

This week, another player faced the possibility of quarantine as he made his way to the Qatar Masters on Wednesday. Italy’s Francesco Laporta was given the option to fly straight back to his home country or face 14 days in isolation when he arrived in Doha.

Telling a reporter afterwards, “I found myself there with 40 compatriots who arrived from Milan. We were treated with respect and welcomed also by the Italian ambassador but there were two solutions: quarantine for two weeks or return home, I had no alternative. I took a flight to Rome and now I’m going to Puglia.”

Now the world of sport awaits a decision on the Olympics, due to take place this summer in Tokyo.

Yesterday, world number one Rory McIlroy told reporters, “If they deem it safe to go to Tokyo I’ll be in the plane on my way there.” Adding, “The Olympic committee have the best people to rely on to tell them whether the games should go ahead or not – they know better than I do.”

When asked last week about qualifying for the Olympic Games, American Brittany Lincicome said, “That would be a dream come true but our health is more important. We’ll just have to cross that bridge when we get there.”

As the Coronavirus begins to really take hold around the world, it will be interesting to see how the illness plays out for upcoming sporting events.