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'It's in safe hands': Shane Lowry to keep Claret Jug for another 12 months after Open Championship cancelled



Shane Lowry after winning the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club last year

Shane Lowry after winning the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club last year

Getty Images

Shane Lowry after winning the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club last year

Shane Lowry insists that the Claret Jug will be in "safe hands" for another 12 months after The Open became the latest global event to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic.

While golf's leading organisations issued a joint statement setting out a tentative schedule for the game's Major events in the latter half of the year - with The Masters set for November for the first time - the R&A were forced to cancel the 149th Open Championship scheduled for Royal St George's from July 16-19.

"It's disappointing that the news has just come out," Lowry admitted, shortly after the R&A announced that the 149th Open will be played at the Sandwich venue in 2021.

"I have obviously got mixed emo­tions about it. I'd love to be going back to Royal St George's this year to defend but the R&A have made their decision and that decision is based on the health and safety of the spectators, the players and everyone involved that's going to be there, so we will have to wait until 2021.

"It's a weird time, isn't it? There is no Open Championship in the calendar year. It's weird and it's something that I've never known and it's been a long time since that's happened.

"But it's in safe hands for the next 12 months and I look forward to going to Royal St George's to defend it in 2021."

On the first cancellation of The Open since World War II, The R&A's chief executive Martin Slumbers said: "Our absolute priority is to protect the health and safety of the fans, players, officials, volunteers and staff involved in The Open.

"We care deeply about this historic Championship and have made this decision with a heavy heart. We appreciate that this will be disappointing for a great many people around the world but we have to act responsibly during this pandemic and it is the right thing to do. I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year but it is not going to be possible.

"There are many different considerations that go into organising a major sporting event of this scale. We rely on the support of the emergency services, local authorities and a range of other organisations to stage the Championship and it would be unreasonable to place any additional demands on them when they have far more urgent priorities to deal with.

"We are committed to supporting our community in the weeks and months ahead and will do everything in our power to help golf come through this crisis."

While The Open is cancelled, the game's leading organisations hope the Covid-19 crisis will abate and allow them to play the US PGA (August 6-9), the FedEx Cup play-offs (August 10-September 7), the US Open (September 17-20), the Ryder Cup (September 25-27 as planned) and The Masters (November 12-15) in a highly ambi­tious 101-day span.

After the game's leading organisations issued a joint statement on the potential new schedule, Graeme McDowell tweeted: "The impossible jigsaw starts to come together."

The biggest change is the proposed November 12-15 date for The Masters at Augusta National, which was previ­ously scheduled for this week - April 9-12 - before being postponed on March 13.

While the European Tour have post­poned the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco (June 4-7), and cancelled the Scandinavian Mixed (June 11-14), they have yet to announce plans for the remainder of 2020 with just six weeks to be filled between the Ryder Cup and The Masters.

Paul McGinley, who is a member of the European Tour board, is simply hoping that sport can return to nor­mal in 2021.

"Unfortunately, there are a lot of casualties in the sporting calendar at the moment and now The Open has gone by the wayside," he said.

"It's great that (it will happen at Sandwich in 2021) and is not just taken out of the calendar."

Belfast Telegraph