Golf in damage control after star tests positive to virus
American golfer Nick Watney has withdrawn from the RBC Heritage in South Carolina ahead of the second round after he became the first PGA Tour member to test positive for COVID-19.
Watney, who also competed last week - missing the cut in Fort Worth, Texas - travelled privately to Hilton Head Island this week.
The PGA Tour said upon arriving at Harbour Town for second-round action, Watney indicated he had symptoms consistent with the illness. After consulting with a physician, Watney was administered a test and found to be positive.
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"For the health and well-being of all associated with the tournament and those within the community, the Tour has begun implementing its response plan in consultation with medical experts including working with those who may have had close contact with Nick," the PGA Tour said in a statement.
Watney, a five-times winner on the PGA Tour, played the first round in a group with fellow Americans Vaughn Taylor and Luke List.
Taylor, who will be tested again as part of the PGA Tour's protocol, learned about Watney's positive test midway through his second round.
"Heart started racing, got a little nervous," said Taylor.
"Just hope Nick's doing well and we get through this."
The tournament is the second in the PGA Tour's return from a three-month COVID-19 break and among the five that will be played without spectators to help stem the spread of the virus.
According to a PGA Tour participant resource guide, anyone who tests positive will be quarantined while a "disinfecting/decontaminating response" is implemented.
The guide also said at-home tests before travelling to a tournament are "strongly encouraged" but not required.
Upon arriving at a tournament, players and caddies must proceed to a testing site to receive a nasal swab test and thermal screening.
Once a negative test result is received, players will be issued a wristband or lanyard that grants them access to the locker room and clubhouse.
World number one Rory McIlroy said Watney texted him the news since the two had chatted with each other on a practice green earlier in the day.
"We were at a distance. He was just saying, look, I hope I didn't get too close to you," said McIlroy, who told Watney to "concentrate on getting better".
"He feels badly that he was here today at the golf course."
Originally published as Golf in damage control after US star tests positive