Illness knocked Justin Lower out of this week’s PGA Tour stop, days after his best finish of 2023.
Lower was in Silvis, Illinois, scheduled to tee off at 7:56 am Thursday in the opening round of the John Deere Classic.
The former Northwest High School and Malone University player was coming off an eighth-place finish in the Rocket Mortgage Classic, his best finish of calendar year 2023.
Ken Hyland, who was Lower’s coach at Malone, obtained details of Lower’s late exit from the John Deere field while talking to other former Malone players.
“Justin was in his hotel room and fell ill,” Hyland said. “He went down to the main desk and said, ‘I need to go to the hospital. Something’s wrong.’
“He went in and had a temperature of 103.”
Hyland said a Malone player told him Lower was diagnosed with COVID-19.
“The PGA Tour will not let you play with COVID,” Hyland said.
Golf Injury Report identified the reason for Lower’s withdrawal as COVID-19 and reported his place in the tournament was taken by alternate Arjun Atwal.
Lower was supposed to tee off at 7:56 with Ryan Palmer and Matt NeSmith. NeSmith shot 3-under 68 at the TPC Deere Run Course. Palmer shot 69.
Lower did not play. Hyland felt badly.
“This is the course where in Justin’s junior year at Malone, he won nationals, and his senior year, he finished third,” Hyland said. “I was excited. I thought, of all the courses, this one’s made for him.”
“There’s not too many tournaments left. I was sick. But that’s the name of this game. You just don’t know what’s going to happen at any time.”
Hyland prayed for a speedy recovery and awaited further news about Lower’s condition.
Lower’s finish at the Rocket Mortgage Classic was a huge boost to his quest to secure a PGA Tour Card for the 2023-24 season. He entered the week 91st in the Tour’s FedEx Cup standings and has season winnings of $1.2 million.
The 2022-23 season continues with the Barbasol Championship, July 13-16, in Kentucky; the Barracuda Championship, July 20-23, in California; the 3M Open, July 27-30, in Minnesota; and the Wyndham Championship, Aug. 3-6, in North Carolina.
Lower’s three top-10 finishes this season include a fourth in the Fortinet Championship last September, eighth in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship last October, and eighth in the Rocket Mortgage Classic that ended Sunday.
This article originally appeared on The Repository: Justin Lower out of PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic with COVID-19