The PGA Tour is making adjustments to its tournament health and safety plan to further minimise the risk of Covid-19, following a number of withdrawals from this week’s Travelers Championship due to the virus.
Following the withdrawal of Cameron Champ on Tuesday after he tested positive for Covid-19 during pre-tournament screening, Graeme McDowell and Brooks Koepka pulled out yesterday as a precaution due to their caddies testing positive. Webb Simpson and Chase Koepka also withdrew out of caution, the former due to a relative contracting the virus and the latter as he played a practice round with his brother Brooks and McDowell.
The US$7.4 million event tees off later today at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.
The PGA Tour noted in a statement issued yesterday:
“We have been working since March to develop a comprehensive health and safety plan that would be considered a best practice among professional sports leagues. While we have been thorough in building and implementing a program that mitigates as much risk as possible, we knew it would be impossible to eliminate all risk – as evidenced by the three positive tests this week.
“We need to use these developments as a stark reminder for everyone involved as we continue to learn from an operational standpoint; we are making several adjustments to our health and safety plan, as noted in the memo sent to players this morning, and we will continuously reinforce to all players, caddies, staff members and support personnel on property at PGA Tour events to adhere to social distancing and other safety protocols that further minimize risk.”
Positive Covid-19 cases with PGA Tour arrival testing complete (2,757 total in-market tournament tests over three weeks; 7 positives):
• Cameron Champ (PGA Tour player)
• Ken Comboy (caddie for Graeme McDowell)
• Ricky Elliott (caddie for Brooks Koepka)
• No positives as of 2:50 p.m. ET
Overview of withdrawals from the Travelers Championship field (chronological order):
Withdrew after testing positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday.
“I feel great physically and I was obviously surprised and disappointed to learn of the test result,” said Champ. “It’s important now to take the necessary steps and measures to protect others, including my loved ones.”
Withdrew out of an abundance of caution after his caddie, Ken Comboy, tested positive for Covid-19.
“When I look at the last four to five days, I have experienced some fatigue and muscle soreness myself,” said McDowell. “I didn’t think of it as Covid related, but rather just the effect of being back on the road, back practicing, back playing and just a little tired after having a few months off. But now that Kenny has tested positive – and we’ve spent a lot of time together the last 10 days – I have to take those symptoms more seriously. That is why I am withdrawing this week. I want to do the responsible thing.
“I’ve had two negative tests this week – Monday and Wednesday – but if there’s any chance that I could have it, I am not keen on risking the possibility that I could pass it onto anyone else this week in Hartford.”
Withdrew out of an abundance of caution after his caddie, Ricky Elliott, tested positive for Covid-19.
“I haven’t tested positive for Covid-19, but as I’ve said all along, I’m taking this very seriously,” said Koepka. “I don’t want to do anything that might jeopardize the health of any player in the field or his ability to compete. I was planning to take the next two weeks off anyway, so the right thing to do right now is get home, support Ricky and feel confident that I’m doing what I can do protecting my fellow tour members, my PGA Tour friends and everyone associated with the Travelers Championship this week.”
Withdrew out of an abundance of caution; has been tested twice and has not tested positive for Covid-19 this week.
“In the last 24 hours, I had a family member test positive for Covid-19,” said Simpson. “While my tests this week were negative, I feel like it is my responsibility to take care of my family and protect my peers in the field by withdrawing from the Travelers Championship. I am going to return home to Charlotte and quarantine under CDC guidelines, and I look forward to returning to competition after that time period.”
Withdrew out of an abundance of caution; neither he nor his caddie, Dan Gambil, have tested positive for Covid-19, but they played a practice round with McDowell (caddie positive) and Brooks Koepka (caddie positive).
“Despite being very excited about playing the Travelers Championship, I am electing to withdraw,” said Koepka. “My team and I have all tested negative for Covid-19; however, I was in close contact with someone who tested positive. I feel as if this is the best decision to keep all other players, caddies and volunteers safe. I wish everyone the best of luck this week.”