Sentosa, Singapore May 21: It has been more than two months since the last putt dropped at the Bandar Malaysia Open.
Trevor Simsby’s euphoric celebrations that reverberated across Kota Permai Golf and Country Club after winning his biggest professional title seemed like a distant memory now.
That was the last slice of action on the Asian Tour before the COVID-19 virus sent the world into a tailspin.
The buzz around the golf course is missing, the euphoria of the crowd cheering in unison as the ball drops into the hole is gone and professional men’s golf is now on hold.
It has been an eerie silence but like the sporting spirit which speaks of resilience, many are adjusting to their new normal.
While some are in isolation at home, others like Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Danny Chia braved the long wait to get home before serving their mandatory 14-day quarantine in hotel rooms designated by their respective local governments.
Chia was left stranded in Japan for almost two months after his plans to arrive early for the Abema TV Tour was thwarted by the invisible virus.
Although he could still enjoy his rounds of golf in the Land of the Rising Sun, it was the yearning of being back with his family and friends that was foremost on his mind as ‘nothing beats the feeling of being close to your loved ones.’
Kiradech’s time in isolation and away from the family has been a good time for reflection, seeing how life sometimes need to be looked at from a different angle.
“This is like a life lesson. It puts a lot of things in perspective and how important it is to keep not only yourself safe but also your family. When we were in Orlando, it was scary to go out to meet friends as we were afraid of passing the virus. Everyone has to be safe. It makes you appreciate life and golf more,” said the 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion.
India’s Anirban Lahiri and Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung are attempting to become the next MasterChef while others like David Gleeson is filling his social media pages with display of his musical talent, mimicking Sir Nick and The Hawk. Justin Harding, Rahil Gangjee and Aman Raj are experimenting with new fashion styles and reigning Order of Merit champion Jazz Janewattanond is discovering another skill.
Practice sessions have been quickly adapted in homes, some even with home-made golf simulators to keep themselves fit and ready for whenever it is time to return to some semblance of normality.
Although Mardan Mamat can no longer share the same physical space with his fans, digital advancements have enabled him to see and talk to them, dispensing (free!) golf tips from home.
Daniel Chopra has even taken time to take everyone on a grand virtual tour of his home in Orlando.
Time has opened for different things and brought many closer together to those that they live with.
Chiragh Kumar continues to fill the hours playing with his kids, spending time at home and waiting like everyone else to see what’s next.
While many are enjoying the comforts of home during these times, some like Japan’s Yuta Ikeda is preparing to make his long-awaited trip home after spending more than two months in Malaysia after coming down with dengue fever and not being able to return to Japan earlier due to travel restrictions.
The route to normality is still hazy with signpost shifting like pin positions but golf will be back.
The days in quarantine will be over.
Friends will step out from behind their screens and meet as rivals on the golf course again.
We will travel again.
Life on the Asian Tour will go on, as it always has and as it always must.