Scots golfer Connor Syme has gone the extra mile to get back in the swing of things, driving to Atzebrugg to compete in this week’s Austrian Open.
The European Tour has been shut down since March because of the coronavirus pandemic but as global sport takes steps back to normality, the golf calendar resumes this week.
Syme, from Drumoig, has travelled from home to take part and admits his journey was pretty far from the perfect preparation he might normally aim for.
“It was tough to get here,” he said. “We took the train to London and drove from there so it’s been a bit of a trek.
“It was rough, to be honest. After we had done our tests, I got the train down to meet up with my caddy. That was quiet and ideal. But I don’t think we had anticipated [how rough the drive it would be].
“We were thinking ‘Well, we go to Australia and I know it’s bad but not that bad’.
“My caddy thought he could do it in one go but we drove to the crossing, stopped just when we got into France and crashed for a few hours and then did thirteen hours the next day.
“The flights all got cancelled from Scotland so we felt it was the best chance to come and play.”
The tournament will take place under strict protocols introduced to keep players and staff safe and Syme said while the atmosphere was odd, it was a positive move towards normal sport.
“It does feel weird being back but it feels safe too,” he said. “All the precautions that the European Tour are taking to make possible to play feel good.
“So I’m feeling positive about that, which I guess was going to be one of the difficult things.”
Syme was runner up in the Shot Clock Master on the same course two years ago and said that was a factor in making the journey to play now rather than later.
“Had the restart been elsewhere I might just have waited until the UK tournaments but I have great memories of playing here,” he said. “I’m delighted to be here, it was definitely one of my highlights on the European Tour and it’s good to reminisce.
“It’s all positive memories here but it’s the first competition back after four months.
“We’ll probably be a little bit easier on ourselves and a more accepting of bad shots. Although I’ve been working hard at home we’ve not been able to do any bunker practise or short game, putting. I’m expecting to be a little bit rusty but everyone will be in the same boat.
“It might be a little bit lighthearted but I might play some better golf because of that.”