A last-minute government reprieve has paved the way for Deyen Lawson to rejoin the European Tour and take his place as the sole Australian in the field for this week’s Austrian Open.
The Austrian Open at Diamond Country Club outside Vienna is being staged as a joint European Tour/Challenge Tour event with Lawson’s Challenge Tour status gained at Qualifying School last year providing a place for him in the field.
Since returning to Australia after playing three Challenge Tour events in Africa and the world going into lockdown in early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lawson has been biding his time practising and giving lessons at Glades Golf Club on the Gold Coast.
He had almost resigned himself to not leaving the country again in 2020 but the competitive itch that grew with the return of tournament golf in the US ultimately convinced Lawson to book his flights for two events in Austria in successive weeks.
“I was tossing up whether to go until last Tuesday and then I just went ahead and booked my flights,” Lawson revealed.
“I was going and then I wasn’t going and then I was going and eventually it just came down to the fact that I wanted to play and wanted to compete again.”
Lawson required approval to enter from the Austrian Government before he was able to confirm his travel, but was very nearly turned away at the boarding gate prior to leaving Brisbane last Saturday.
“I went to book in at the airport and they said I needed permission from the Australian Government to leave, and I didn’t have that at the time,” Lawson said.
“I’d read through every bit of detail, had the test to show that I was negative and spoke to the quarantine people about what would happen when I came back and no one had mentioned I needed approval to leave.
“I was told by Border Security that approval from Canberra normally takes seven days but there are a couple of exemptions and because I have spent more time overseas than in Australia the past two years I fell into one of those exemptions.
“They even looked up my Wikipedia page – that I didn’t even know that I had – so that was pretty funny.
“If I’d spent more time in Australia the past two years I wouldn’t have been able to come.”
In addition to the Austrian Open this week Lawson is guaranteed a start in next week’s Euram Bank Open, also in Austria, but will need to produce something spectacular to play his way into contention for the six-week European Tour swing through the UK starting July 22.
“With my category status I’d probably have to win,” Lawson said.
“If I play all right in both I might get an invite into the first event but I probably wouldn’t go to the UK just for one event.
“I wasn’t coming here unless I was definitely in for both and it will be the same in the UK. Unless I get two or three in a row then I’ll just come home and get ready for the Aussie summer.
“There’s only so much practice you can do before you need to measure where your game’s at. I saw this as a good opportunity to come over and see where I’m at and then if nothing else get ready to have a crack at the Aussie events at the end of the year.”
• The PGA Tour is spending the next two weeks at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Ohio starting with the new Workday Charity Open this week, while the Korn Ferry Tour moves to Texas for the TPC San Antonio Challenge.
Marc Leishman rejoins the Aussie contingent on the PGA Tour while Steven Bowditch is in the field in San Antonio in his home state while in America.
Former Australian Open champion Steve Allan also very nearly played his way into the latest Korn Ferry event but his 64 in Monday qualifying fell just short, the second week in succession he has posted that number in qualifying without earning a start.
This week on tour
Round 1 tee-times AEST
Diamond Country Club, Atzenbrugg, Austria
11.10pm – Deyen Lawson, Robbie Van West, Benjamin Rusch
Defending champion: Mikko Korhonen (2018)
Past Australian champions: Richard Green (2007)
Workday Charity Open
Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio
8.50pm – Aaron Baddeley, Jhonattan Vegas, Robby Shelton
9.12pm – Matt Jones, Brian Stuard, Bronson Burgoon
9.45pm* – Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka
10.51pm – Tim Wilkinson, Mackenzie Hughes, Scott Harrington
10.51pm* – Danny Lee, Jason Kokrak, JJ Spaun
2.26am – Cameron Davis, Charley Hoffman, Carlos Ortiz
2.48am – Marc Leishman, Collin Morikawa, Brandt Snedeker
4.16am – Cameron Percy, Byeong Hun An, Matt Wallace
Defending champion: New event
Top Aussie prediction: Marc Leishman
TV schedule: Live 5am-8am Friday and Saturday; Live 3am-8am Sunday and Monday on Fox Sports 503
Korn Ferry Tour
TPC San Antonio Challenge at the Canyons
TPC San Antonio (Canyons Course), San Antonio, Texas
11pm* – Steven Bowditch, Nelson Ledesma, Paul Barjon
11.20pm* – Robert Allenby, Augusto Núñez, Max McGreevy
11.30pm* – Curtis Luck, JJ Henry, John VanDerLaan
4.20am – Brett Coletta, Tag Ridings, Greg Yates
5am* – Harrison Endycott, Dawson Armstrong, Yuwa Kosaihira
5.10am* – Ryan Ruffels, Brad Hopfinger, Brent Grant
5.20am – Brett Drewitt, Kevin Lucas, KK Limbhasut
Defending champion: New event
Top Aussie prediction: Harrison Endycott