The PGA Tour resumes play, Nick Watney and Cameron Champ test positive for Covid-19
THE TESTING IS certainly yielding results, pun intended. At the Traveler’s Championship— the final round of which will get underway today—the first person to drop out of the field was Cameron Champ. The long hitter tested positive for coronavirus when he arrived at the TPC River Highlands for the event. Champ finished T14th a couple of weeks back at the Charles Schwab Challenge(FortWorth, Texas) and has been feeling, if any thing, better than ever.”I feel
great physically and I was obviously surprised and disappointed to learn of the test result, “Champ said in a statement released by the tour.
“It’s important now to take the necessary steps and measures to protect others, including my loved ones.” Champ will need to self-isolate for the next tendays. The PGA Tour’s decision to resume play on Tour has been return to play has come under pressure after criticism that some players have not been taking the distancing guidelines seriously. At the RBC Heritage in South Carolina, played earlierthis month, Nick Watney’s test came back positive after he’d already played his first round. The tour had contact tracing tests of 11 people who may have come in close contact with Watney.
The 11 people had two tests, and all results were negative. According to the measures the Tour had announced last month, players were supposed to be tested before leaving their homes and then again when they arrived at the venue. On the course, they’re expected to keep their distance not just from other players but their own caddies as well.
The Tour has also limited the number of people on site at a given event and that includes not just support personnel,
sponsors and media but players’ families as well. Players have also been asked to stay at hotels the tour has consulted with and considered safe.”We are going to implement measures to ensure social distancing, whether that’s in practice areas, whether that’sinthebuildings, whether that’s anybody who’s on site,” Andy Levinson, the tour’s senior vice president of tournament administration, told the Washington Post. “We’ve taken the approach of looking at every single person who’s onsite, walking a day in their shoes, trying to recognise those touch points and understanding ways that we can mitigate that.”
By media accounts, it appears that not all players have been taking safety protocols seriously.Golf.com writer, Luke-Kerr Dineen, who reporting from the Traveler’s Championship wrote about how ‘…On Wednesday afternoon, coaches roamed the range with impunity. There were countless fist bumps and handshakes, and equipment changing hands.’
The Tour has been taking note: after Champ’s test came back positive, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan issued a memo to players asking them to treat the situation like a’wakeup call.”Asle of measures were added to the safety protocols that included testing players’ coaches and instructors (amongst the few allowed onsite).
Players are now required to wear a health-tracking band that can help tip them off if it detects possible symptoms.
The band is what alerted Watney last week. The PGA Tour’s memo included a warning for players found not complying with the new protocols. “Failure to comply with our safety protocols will result in disciplinary action,” Monahan wrote, “but I’m sure it goes without saying that we should all be taking this seriously, as the repercussions
go beyond a fine or suspension.”
Not everyone needs stark warnings like that. Ulsterman Graeme Mc Dowell and Brooks Koepka withdrew from the Traveler’s Championship after their respective caddies tested positive. Both players’ tests have come out negative but they’ve decided to not take a chance and self-isolate.
Now unlike the players on the PGA Tour, caddies cannot take private jets, or travel with their private chefs. That means they need to get about town at the venues and there’s nowaytheTourcan police the neighborhoods the tour visits. Other top draws including the likes of Tiger Woods are just steering clear of tournament play for the time being. That’snotnecessarilya bad thing from the Tour’s point of view.
A top-player contracting and succumbing to the disease, god forbid, would bring the PGA Tour’s post-covid revival to a tragic end. Some players have decided to hit the road, literally much like players of yore used to in 1970s-on a proper motorhome (RV). CT Pan, who was part of the President’s Cup team,and wife Michelle are going it alone
in a motorhome.
“During quarantine, like everyone, we were watching a bunch of videos on YouTube,” he said.”We felt like, ‘Hey, this could be a good idea,” added Pan. The couple’s van has been outfitted for full-time travel replete with a queen-sized
bed, bathroom and kitchen. While family is not allowed at events right now, Michelle has decided to come along for the ride. “It’s a long drive but it’s good to have my wife with me,” he continued. “Family isn’t allowed on the tour right now, so it’s good to have her by my side.If anything bad happened we wanted to stay together.”
Pan’s RV generated a flurry of interest when they arrived for the Traveler’s Championship venue in Cromwell, Connecticut this week. The PGA Tour was quick to release a statement about the unconventional route the couple have taken to stay safe during the pandemic. The high road isn’t an easy one to take. Pan and Michelle drove 14 hours from Hilton Head, the venue for last week’s event to get to TPC River Highlands for this event. Perhaps the
Tour should consider giving a special prize to the Tour’s most innovative traveller at the Traveller’s Championship.
A golfer, Meraj Shah also writes about the game