Coronavirus: Reigning champion Lowry 'sad and disappointed' by Open cancellation

By Sports Desk April 06, 2020

Reigning Open champion Shane Lowry was "sad and disappointed" by the R&A's decision to cancel this year's competition due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 149th edition of the major was scheduled to start at Royal St George's on July 16 but on Monday became the latest sporting event to be called off amid the spread of COVID-19.

There have been over 47,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United Kingdom and nearly 5,000 people have died after contracting the virus.

Lowry will have to wait until 2021 to defend the Claret Jug at the course in Sandwich but feels the right decision has been made.

"Obviously, like everybody else, I'm very sad and disappointed that the R&A have had to cancel this year's Open Championship," he said in a video posted on his official Twitter account.

"At the end of the day people's health and safety come way before any golf tournament and I'm sure the R&A have thought long and hard about this and have made the decision based on 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 in Royal St George's in 2021."

It was reported last week that a revised calendar that would see three majors and the Ryder Cup played in the space of four months was close to being agreed.

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    Dustin Johnson believes his experience will be crucial when he attempts to get the job done at the US PGA Championship on Sunday.

    The American moved into a one-shot lead from Cameron Champ and Scottie Scheffler after a five-under 65 left him at nine under for the tournament following round three.

    Johnson has just one major win to his name at the 2016 U.S. Open but has been a perennial challenger and has runners-up finishes at golf's other three majors.

    The former world number one is confident that being in those situations in the past can aid his bid at TPC Harding Park.

    "I definitely have experience in this situation that definitely will help tomorrow. I've been in the hunt a bunch of times in a major," he said. 

    "I've got one major, so having that experience is definitely going to be beneficial tomorrow.

    "But it's one of those things. I'm still going to have to go out and play really good golf. This is a tough golf course, the greens are getting really firm. They are fast. So I think the wind is going to blow again tomorrow, so it's going to play difficult.

    "I look forward to the challenge and I will definitely be relying on a lot of that experience that I have."

    Asked what will be different about the previous times he has led or co-led a major, Johnson replied: "I was definitely younger. I have been out here a while now.

    "I've been in contention a lot, and I've got it done a lot of times. Tomorrow, it's no different. I'm going to have to play good golf if I want to win."

    Champ is a two-time winner on the PGA Tour and is leading the driving average off the tee in 2020.

    The 25-year-old said he is comfortable being at the top of leaderboards and is ready to embrace any nerves that come on Sunday.

    "There's definitely a comfortability there. I've been in that situation a few times. I embrace it. I love it. Again, this is what we play for, to get in contention, to win tournaments," he said.

    "Obviously this is a major…I'm sure there will be a little bit of nerves at some point throughout the round, but again, that's part of it."

    Scheffler, who matched Johnson's 65, is aiming to become the first player since Keegan Bradley in 2011 to win the PGA Championship on his tournament debut.

    "There's definitely some nerves but just got to try and handle them as best I can and go out and play," he said.

    "I did a good job of that today just staying in the right frame of mind, hitting good, positive swings and made some nice birdies."

  • I like my chances...he's only won one: Koepka sets the PGA battle lines for Johnson I like my chances...he's only won one: Koepka sets the PGA battle lines for Johnson

    Brooks Koepka offered a subtle reminder Dustin Johnson has only won one major and said "I like my chances" when asked how he feels about chasing down his fellow American at the US PGA Championship.

    On a fascinating moving day at TPC Harding Park, former world number one Johnson climbed into a one-shot lead as a five-under-par 65 left him nine under for the tournament.

    But Koepka, aiming to win the tournament for the third straight year, is only two shots back himself as the first major of 2020 nears a thrilling conclusion.

    In 2019, it was Johnson who was attempting to reel in Koepka and with the roles reversed the latter did not pass up the chance to lay the battle lines.

    "I mean, I like my chances. When I've been in this position before, I've capitalised," Koepka told a news conference. 

    "I don't know, he's only won one. I'm playing good. I don't know, we'll see."

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    Koepka, who shot a one-under 69 on Saturday, has four to his name and spoke about the challenges of winning a second major.

    "Well, if you look at the top of the leaderboard, I'd say yes [it is more difficult to win a second major]," he added.

    "I think expectations. I guess it does become difficult if you think you've played good enough to win multiple ones. 

    "But you've just got to keep putting yourself there. I'm doing a good job of that. But the second one definitely is a little bit tougher, I think, as you can see from the top of the leaderboard.

    "I'm playing good so I like my chances. Just put the ball in the fairway a few more times and not in the semi. 

    "That would be all right, just not short-side myself. If I can do that tomorrow and not short-side myself, I'll have a good chance."

  • Johnson snares lead as Koepka looms large at US PGA Championship Johnson snares lead as Koepka looms large at US PGA Championship

    Brooks Koepka remains in contention to complete a US PGA Championship three-peat after keeping new leader Dustin Johnson in his sights on Saturday.

    Johnson will take a one-stroke advantage into the final round after firing a crisp 65 to reach nine under, but the 2019 runner-up looks set to face a strong challenge from the man who beat him to last year's title.

    Back-to-back champion Koepka (69) picked up two shots over the final three holes to recover from a potentially damaging run of three straight bogeys.

    Overnight leader Li Haotong coped less successfully with the pressure, carding a costly three-over 73 that included three bogeys and a double at the 13th.

    Johnson, four shots back through 36 holes, ran into trouble with a double bogey of his own at the ninth, before steadying to finish with eight birdies on moving day.

    The one-time major champion holds a narrow lead over Scottie Scheffler (65) and Cameron Champ (67), who are tied for second.

    Cole Morikawa (65) and Paul Casey (68) are level with Koepka at seven under, but all eyes will be on the 30-year-old American on Sunday.

    He could become the first golfer to win the tournament three times in a row since Walter Hagen in the 1920s.

    Six men, including the improving Bryson DeChambeau (66) and 2015 winner Jason Day (70), are a further shot back at six under.

    Tiger Woods fell well out of contention after carding a two-over 72 for the second successive round.

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