NEW YORK: Two players have withdrawn ahead of the Travelers Championship because of the coronavirus as the PGA Tour awaits test results of the entire field of players and caddies in its third week back amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cameron Champ tested positive when he arrived Tuesday and took his mandatory test at TPC River HIghlands.
Graeme McDowell withdrew Wednesday without having tested positive. McDowell told Golfweek that his caddie, Ken Comboy, tested positive. McDowell said he was withdrawing for the protection of the other players and caddies and for his own peace of mind.
He was to fly from Cromwell, Connecticut, to his home in Orlando, Florida.
“The alarm bells have started to ring now that Kenny has failed this test,” McDowell told Golfweek. “We’re a close-knit team. We roomed together last week, we spent six hours in a car. He’s carrying the virus, so in some way, I have to be carrying it, too.”
McDowell said he informed the tour who he was around during his time at the TPC River Highlands. That includes a practice round Tuesday with Brooks Koepka, Chase Koepka and British Open champion Shane Lowry.
The PGA Tour’s return to tournaments started with a perfect record — 487 tests for players arriving at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas; 98 players on the charter flight to South Carolina; 369 tests at Hilton Head Island. All came back negative.
Nick Watney was the first player to test positive, on Friday at the RBC Heritage. Watney, who had tested negative on Tuesday, asked to be tested again when his Whoop wristband — which measures various health metrics — showed an increase in his respiratory rate.
Justin Thomas, who also wears the wristband, said the tour has acquired Whoop straps for players and caddies.
“It’s crazy to say, but (without) his Whoop device we could have been screwed right now because he could have played the rest of the week and ended up contaminating or infecting many other people,” Thomas said Wednesday.
Will Ahmed, the CEO and founder of Whoop, said the tour has acquired more than 1,000 of the straps and that the company was working to integrate the straps with “everyone in the PGA Tour universe.”
Comboy, the longtime caddie for McDowell, told Golfweek he flew to Florida commercially from Texas after McDowell missed the cut because there wasn’t room on the private plane. He and McDowell attended a funeral on Monday and then drove to Hilton Head.
McDowell did not immediately respond to a text from the AP seeking comment. He told Golfweek he tested negative at the Travelers Championship on Monday, and he would decide when he reached home whether he should quarantine from his family.