They were out, and then they were back in. Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari had withdrawn from this week’s Oman Open on the European Tour, at the Tour’s behest, over concerns the pair might have contracted the coronavirus.
After the pair were tested for the illness, however, they were cleared and allowed to compete in this week’s event.
Gagli, who was rooming with Molinari for the week, told the Italian newspaper La Nazione that a European Tour doctor told him at breakfast Wednesday that he needed to return to his accommodations to be quarantined. The European Tour said in a statement early Thursday that Gagli exhibited “flu-like” symptoms, prompting the testing and “self-isolation” recommended by the World Health Organization and Omani Ministry of Health. Gagli said he simply had a cold. Italy has reported 447 cases of the coronavirus, the most of any country outside Asia, with 12 fatalities.
Moliniari, who had showed no signs of illness, was moved to another hotel room.
For everyone asking, I am absolutely fine. No symptoms at all, no fever, no cold, nothing wrong at all…just very bored and annoyed. Hopefully this nightmare will be over soon!
— Edoardo Molinari (@DodoMolinari) February 27, 2020
Gagli was tested and told the results would be available in two days but said he was told he would have to remain in his room for a week. Even if given the all clear, it would be too late for the pair to compete in the Oman Open and next week’s Qatar Masters.
“It’s an inexplicable decision,” Gagli said Wednesday to the Italian paper. “Only us two have been excluded from the tournament, but I arrived in Muscat last Sunday and over the last few days I’ve worked out in the gym with dozens of other players. I ate with them and traveled by bus with them.
“If there was a risk of contagion, then they would have to isolate dozens of golfers and cancel the tournament.”
On Thursday morning, however, the test came back negative. The European Tour chose to reinstate the two players back into the field, raising the field size to 146 players, above the stated 144 players. They will play together in their own extra pairing for the first two rounds.
“We will also continue to work closely with our own health experts and local authorities to ensure we have the latest medical and travel advice for all our tournaments,” said European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley in a statement, “because the well-being of our players, staff and spectators remains the European Tour’s absolute priority.”