Golf player Shane Lowry ‘excited’ as he prepares for Saudi International

Golf player Shane Lowry ‘excited’ as he prepares for  Saudi International
Shane Lowry with the cup he won in Abu Dhabi. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 14 January 2020

Golf player Shane Lowry ‘excited’ as he prepares for Saudi International

Golf player Shane Lowry ‘excited’ as he prepares for  Saudi International
  • The player said the weather is perfect in the Middle East
  • Lowry commended the work of Saudi Golf in promoting the game in the Kingdom

DUBAI: Self-confessed Middle East fan, Shane Lowry said he is excited to play at the Saudi International golf tournament, at the Royal Greens and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).

And the world’s number 19, who is currently defending his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title. said he hoped to score high in the upcoming game as he plays for the first time in the Kingdom during the tournament which runs from Jan, 30 to Feb. 2.

“It would be great to win in Saudi Arabia and start my season in a positive way as I look to achieve one of my lifelong goals to play the Ryder Cup,” the player said.

Explaining his love of the region he said the Middle East had perfect weather and pristine courses, presenting him with another reason to be excited about his pending visit to Saudi Arabia.

“A lot of the guys on tour said it was a great event in 2019 [the Saudi International] and the course was in excellent condition,” Lowry added.

The player commended the work of Saudi Golf in promoting the game in the Kingdom, which he believes will benefit the sport on the long term.

“It is great to see so many young people [in Saudi Arabia] taking up sports, whether that is golf or another sport… It will teach you to be patient but also show that work brings rewards,” Lowry said.


COVID-19 problems mount for Australian Open as four more participants test positive

COVID-19 problems mount for Australian Open as four more participants test positive
Updated 18 January 2021

COVID-19 problems mount for Australian Open as four more participants test positive

COVID-19 problems mount for Australian Open as four more participants test positive
  • Officials said more cases may come to light as testing continues
  • ‘It’s time to be selfish, time for Victoria to put ourselves first’

MELBOURNE: More players were forced into hard quarantine ahead of the Australian Open with officials confirming on Monday that four additional participants, including an athlete, tested positive for COVID-19 among those arriving in Melbourne.
Health authorities in Victoria state have now reported nine infections among passengers who arrived on charter flights for the Feb. 8-21 Australian Open and officials said more cases may come to light as testing continues.
“All four are associated with the tennis, and they’re all tucked away safely in hotel quarantine,” Victoria state premier Daniel Andrews told reporters of the new cases.
Passengers on three Australian Open charter flights were sent into hard quarantine, including over 70 players who will be unable to train for 14 days ahead of the year’s first Grand Slam.
Players have come up with unique ways to pass time and stay fit in isolation with some hitting balls against a mattress and running sprints in corridors.
Others are allowed five hours outside their hotel rooms each day for preparation, in line with arrangements made by organizers Tennis Australia with health authorities.
But several among those, including Australia’s top-ranked player Alex de Minaur, were unable to train on courts on Monday due to logistics issues with transport.
De Minaur, who returned home after winning an ATP title in Turkey last week, posted a video on Instagram of himself sitting at the front door of his hotel room dressed fully in his practice attire.
“It’s been a challenging few days as we’ve worked with the relevant authorities managing the logistics to ensure everyone is safe as practice begins,” TA said in a statement, adding that transport issues were later sorted out.
“Our team is continuing to work with the authorities to help in any way we can. We understand this has been frustrating for the players and apologize.”
The growing infection count has sparked calls from pundits to cancel the Grand Slam.
“It’s time to be selfish, time for Victoria to put ourselves first,” 3AW radio broadcaster Neil Mitchell said.
“Call off the Australian Open. It’s not worth the risk.”
Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley said on Sunday the tournament would start as scheduled.
Many Australians have questioned the decision to host the tournament with organizers flying in 1,200 tennis players and their entourages Down Under when thousands of citizens are stranded overseas due to the pandemic.
Andrews said the government still supported holding the Grand Slam and backed health officials to deliver it safely.
“We think we’ve struck the appropriate balance,” he said.
“If there was a sense from the public health team that that balance could not be struck, that it was too high a risk, well then we wouldn’t have had the event.”
Some players complained about quarantine conditions and said they had not been advised that they would not be allowed to train if there were cases on their flights.
Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, however, apologized after social media users hit out at her for criticizing the strict health protocols.
Two-time men’s wheelchair Grand Slam champion Gordon Reid said those “kicking up a fuss” are in a minority.
A Spanish tennis website reported that world number one Novak Djokovic had written to Tiley asking that quarantine restrictions be eased for players, including reducing the mandatory 14 days of isolation and having players moved to “private houses with tennis courts” so they could train.
The report drew a backlash from Australians on social media, with Djokovic and players told to check their “privilege.”
Andrews said the biosecurity protocols would not be changed.
“It doesn’t mean that everyone likes them, but that’s not the world we’re in,” he said. “This is a wildly infectious pandemic. There are rules that need to be followed.”
Tennis Australia and Djokovic’s team did not respond to request for comment.
Australia’s biggest outbreak of COVID-19 started from returned travelers infecting staff at quarantine hotels in Melbourne last year but border closures and speedy tracking systems helped keep numbers relatively low.
The country has reported a total of more than 28,600 cases and some 909 deaths since the pandemic began.