The PGA Tour was one of the first professional sports to resume during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the organization is facing some scrutiny. Despite implementing several health and safety protocols, the PGA Tour is starting to see some positive cases of COVID-19.
This weekend is the Travelers Championship, and it is just the third event since the PGA Tour resumed their schedule. There had been only one positive test leading up to this week, but that has changed dramatically.
Last weekend, Nick Watney tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to skip out on the RBC Heritage. The PGA Tour was hoping that it would be their only setback, but this week has proven to be a much different story.
The PGA Tour is still conducting all of their events without fans, but they were hoping to get fans back in July. Now it’s looking like the PGA Tour could be shutting down again soon unless things start to improve.
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Five Out of Travelers Before Event Began
Graeme McDowell became the first of five players to withdraw from the Travelers Championship earlier this week when it was discovered that his caddie had tested positive for the coronavirus. McDowell was joined by four other players, and there were some notable names in the group.
Cameron Champ tested positive for COVID-19 when arriving at the Travelers Championship, and that positive test forced him from the action. He was just the second player on the PGA Tour to test positive so far, joining Watney.
Perhaps the biggest name to drop out of the Travelers Championship was Brooks Koepka. Koepka decided to withdraw from the event after his caddie, Ricky Elliott, tested positive for the coronavirus. Koepka has been tested multiple times since that announcement and has tested negative each time.
Along with Koepka, his brother, Chase, was a part of the group that decided to skip out. The Koepka brothers have been practicing together, and that put them in close contact with Elliott.
The final player to withdraw from the Travelers Championship was Webb Simpson. Simpson is coming off a victory at last week’s RBC Heritage and is withdrawing after a family member tested positive for COVID-19.
Two More Out on Friday
Denny McCarthy tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and became the sixth player forced to withdraw from the tournament. Bud Cauley also announced that he was withdrawing from the tournament after being paired with McCarthy during the round on Thursday.
McCarthy initiated the test himself after experiencing symptoms on Thursday night. After his test came back positive, the PGA Tour implemented 16 additional tests to players and caddies that came in contact with the golfer throughout the week.
Matt Wallace was the third golfer in the threesome on Thursday, and he has decided to stay in the tournament. All three caddies of the golfers also tested negative for COVID-19.
PGA Tour Ramping up Testing
On Wednesday, the PGA Tour announced they would be implementing stricter testing procedures and safety measures after the recent outbreak of positive tests. The PGA Tour did not specify what the new testing policy would be but was adamant that more tests would occur.
Along with increased testing, the PGA Tour will also keep a closer eye on players and their actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Commissioner Jay Monahan announced that stiff penalties could be in place for golfers that don’t follow protocols.
Through Wednesday, the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour had administered more than 2,700 tests since returning to play, and there were just seven positive cases. The number has grown since then, forcing the PGA Tour to implement new strategies and policies.