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The PGA Tour begins again today with the Charles Schwab Challenge in the USA, a tournament won last year by Kevin Na who had a four-stroke victory over Tony Finau.
Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry will be among the star-studded field at the Fort Worth, Texas tournament which runs until Sunday.
Prior to the event, Shane Lowry, the 2019 British Open Champion, spoke to Paddy Power for whom he is a brand ambassador.
The Clara, Co. Offaly, native expressed his delighted with the return to golf following the enforced abandonment of the early part of the season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the US Masters at Augusta among the casualties.
“I’m so happy to be back playing competitive golf again.” admitted Lowry, “It’s great that the Tour starts back on Thursday with the Charles Schwab Challenge. I can only speak for myself, but I’m just very happy to be going back to playing some competitive golf again. And it’s going to be some start to the season.”
The former Irish Open Champion continued:
“It seems like everybody is playing the first three tournaments so there’ll be big fields and all the top players will be there. Obviously, everyone is coming back after a long layoff from the Tour so we’ll just see how it goes. But there will be great line-ups and hopefully it’ll all go smoothly and comes across well on TV.”
With many believing horse racing has had an advantage over other sports in returning to action early, the Irishman feels golf needs to profit from the public’s desire for live sport on TV:
“It’s an opportunity for golf to get out there and showcase itself a little bit more. People are craving live sport, so getting golf back on TV will be good, especially as it was looking pretty gloomy for a while after the season got postponed on day one of the Players Championship in March.”
“Nobody expected that” he added, “but suddenly everything snowballed and the US Masters at Augusta got postponed as did all the other Major Championships. It looked like the whole season would be lost. Now at least we’re just days away from getting back into the swing of things.”
Lowry was full of praise for the efforts made by the PGA Tour to get golfing action back as soon as possible:
“The PGA Tour have obviously done a huge amount of work and a great job at getting us back in action. But it’s going to be very different than before though, there’s no doubt about it. There’s a lot of procedures to observe. I’ve a load of documentation about the protocols in place and what we have to do.”
The Clara golfer spoke of the protocols golfers must now follow prior to competing:
“The biggest thing is that everybody involved in the upcoming tournaments will have to take a Covid-19 test first. I’ve a home-test kit to use three days before I’m due to leave for the tournaments and it has to come back negative before I’m even allowed to travel. The results come back within 48 hours of that test and once it’s negative, I’m good to go.”
He further explained the procedure for the foreseeable future while away at a tournament:
“When we’re at the venue, which this week is the Charles Schwab Challenge, we’ll all be cocooned in the same hotels and will have to follow all the different protocols that go with that. I’ll be getting my temperature taken and getting tested quite a lot pre and post tournament, so it is going to take a bit of getting used to. There’ll be constant testing. The PGA Tour has charter planes flying everyone involved from event to event, so players, caddies and support staff will be on them.”
The Charles Schwab Challenge begins on Thursday with live coverage on Sky Sports Golf, Sky Sports Main Event and The Golf Channel.
Shane Lowry was speaking Paddy Power