Rickie Fowler has dropped to 95th in the world rankings
Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Rickie Fowler has questioned why the Covid19 restrictions and regulations will be so strict for the participants at next week’s Open Championship, while the unrestrained supporters will be able to pour through the turnstiles.
“It seems like us as players are having to jump through some hurdles and dodging bullets and they’re having 32,000 fans a day at the tournament, so I don’t know,” the American said.
Players, caddies and other support staff will be prohibited from going to bars, restaurants, and supermarkets and must stay at either approved hotels or private residences, which can only be shared with up to three members of their team.
When these rules were sent to the field two weeks ago, Pete Cowen, the celebrated coach to heavyweights such as Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka, warned the R&A that there would be withdrawals.
So far three Koreans have scratched – Joohyung Kim, Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim withdrawing – and Open organisers will be braced for further cancellations this week. It is understood that the R&A has received several angry emails and Fowler revealed that there have also been several calls to St Andrews HQ.
“Yeah, there are definitely some concerns,” Fowler said. “Guys have been talking to me or have been talking to other guys, been making calls or sending texts back and forth with some of the people with the Open just with any questions or concerns that we have because there’s multiple things that come up as far as if there happens to be a couple people on the plane that test positive when you get there. You know, what happens with that?”
Fowler, now down in 95th in the rankings after a torrid spell, gained a place at Royal St George’s courtesy of his tie for sixth at Royal Portrush two years ago. Four more players qualified on Sunday, with Australian Lucas Herbert earning his berth at the Irish Open at Mount Juliet, where he completed a wire-to-wire success.
The 25-year-old took a one-shot lead into the final round in Co. Kilkenny and shot a 68 to finish on 19-under, three shots clear of Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg. Karlberg – who chipped in on the 18th for his third birdie in the last four holes – and third-placed American Johannes Veerman claimed the other two Open places on offer.
"It’s an unbelievable feeling," Herbert said after lifting his second Tour title. "I felt like I was at one of my low points in my life when I played the Irish Open at Lahinch two years ago. It was my first full season on Tour and I really wasn’t enjoying my life out on the road and at the end of that week was pretty much questioning if this was the career that I wanted to do. So for it to come full circle now and be holding this trophy is really special."
Shane Lowry will head into the defence of his Open title feeling confident after a 66, but Rory McIlroy admitted he needs to work "pretty hard" on his game before and during the Scottish Open after weekend rounds of 73 and 74 left him in tie for 59th.
The other Open ticket was grabbed by Marcel Schneider, the German who birdied the last three holes at the Kaskáda Challenge in the Cezch Republic to secure victory at the Challenge Tour event.