(Reuters) – Reigning British Open champion Shane Lowry is excited to be competing in the Memorial Tournament this week in Dublin, Ohio but it is not lost on the Irishman where he would have been if not for the COVID-19 outbreak.
If not for the pandemic which wreaked havoc on the global sporting calendar, the world’s best golfers would have been at Royal St George’s in Kent on England’s south-east coast this week to contest the year’s final major championship.
“It is strange, like I should be going, should be in St. George’s today probably sitting in the pressroom there as defending champion and wondering how I’m going to go out and tackle that golf course as opposed to being here in Ohio,” Lowry said on Wednesday at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
“It’s just very strange times for us at the minute, isn’t it.”
One benefit for Lowry, who won the Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland by six shots last season, is that he gets to hang on to the coveted Claret Jug for another year.
While Lowry, like any golfer, would rather be competing in a major this week than at a spectator-free event in Ohio, he said he is not wasting energy dwelling on what could have been.
“Obviously I’d love to be in St. George’s this week defending. I’d love if we were playing in front of 40,000 or 50,000 people this week in St. George’s,” said Lowry.
“I’d love, like everybody in the world, if things were back to normal, but they’re not, and we kind of have to get on with that.”
Since the PGA Tour resumed action in June after a three-month COVID-19 hiatus, Lowry missed two cuts followed by a share of 60th place and a tie for 39th place last week.
Lowry will play the opening two rounds this week at Muirfield Village alongside five-times major champion Phil Mickelson and Englishman Justin Rose.
Despite the venue, Lowry is keen to jumpstart his season and make the most of the opportunity this week and try to capture a third PGA Tour win.
“Look, we’re here, this is the biggest tournament in the world this week, the Memorial here, and this is a huge tournament in its own right, so I’m very happy to be competing here,” said Lowry
“But obviously I’d love to be in St. George’s.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)