In Austria last weekend, John Catlin, a 30-year-old American tour pro, won on the European Tour for the third time in eight months. His two previous victories had come in Spain and Ireland last September, the first of those being less than a month after the Tour had withdrawn him from the English Championship for breaching his bubble at Hanbury Manor. Coronavirus is an occasional and ongoing aspect of tournament play in both golf and tennis – at the Monte Carlo Open last week, Daniil Medvedev, the Russian world No.2, had to withdraw after a positive test for Covid-19.

There was an interesting piece about vaccinations in the Daily Telegraph earlier this month by Simon Briggs. He mentioned some tennis players who said they would never be minded to have a vaccine because, in his words, “stepping off the tour to get a jab will lead to lost training days and travel issues [and] the experience of actually contracting the virus is likely to be so trivial that they would be better off picking it up on the road”. These players were not thinking about protecting others and “it is hard for their support staff to guide them when they make all the money and call all the shots”. He contrasted thus the situation with golfers – “tennis players tend to leave school earlier, often before puberty, and thus complete little formal education”.

In other news, you may have read last month Andy Murray’s thoughts regarding his post-tennis career. In a widely reported interview with Gentleman’s Journal, the 33-year-old triple Grand Glam champion said: “I really like golf, so being a caddie, for example, on the golf tour would be something I would find exciting.” He added he would like to be “up close and personal to top golfers – and to learn about another sport like that – and maybe there’s some crossover between the two from the mental side and things, and so you might be able to help a golfer”. He may have something there, which is not a shock: he’s a world-class sportsman, and the essentially solo nature of their respective endeavours might suggest that an expert in one may be able to benefit a competitor in the other.

Murray’s former coach Ivan Lendl, who won eight Grand Slams, is/was an avid golfer, good enough to play in some European Tour events in the 1990s, albeit without ever seriously troubling the scorers at the sharp end of the leaderboard. I pointed out in a blog in February that Rafa Nadal, winner of 20 Grand Slams, finished sixth in the Balearic Golf Championships last October, where the field of 60 included professional golfers. Getting back to the point at the top, Nadal has previously said he thinks all tennis players should get inoculated against coronavirus when they get the chance; it might be fair to describe the present world No.1, Novak Djokovic, as an anti-vaxxer. 

We shall see how the pandemic plays out. For sure the fight against it is a contest the world would love to win, even if emphatically it isn’t one that will be won to love. And when it’s all been done and dusted, in a year or so we might find out just how handy Andy is with a yardage chart?

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