Earlier this week, five players withdrew. Cameron Champ said he tested positive for the virus. Brooks Koepka and Graeme McDowell both left after their cadets tested positive. Brooks’ brother Chase Koepka, who entered the event as a qualifier for Monday, also withdrew as a precaution. Webb Simpson did the same after discovering that a family member had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Last week at RBC Heritage, the second Tour event after a three-month hiatus, Nick Watney became the first player to test positive for the virus.
Commissioner Jay Monahan said on Wednesday that the tour would implement what he called tighter protocols and increased testing. He also stressed that there would be “serious repercussions” for anyone who did not respect the policies.
“It is pretty clear that this virus is not going anywhere,” said Monahan.
Among the changes were an additional test for players who take the charter flight organized between events; that instructors authorized on site would be subjected to the same tests as players; that the fitness trailer for the tour will be on site from next week; and players who test positive and who must self-isolate should follow these protocols to receive an allowance from the tour.
“We all have an extraordinary responsibility to follow these protocols,” said Monahan. “For any individual who does not, there will be serious repercussions.
“But everyone knows and should know that our future, our ability to support this business and have an impact on the communities we play in and to create so many jobs depends on our ability to follow these protocols. So when we have cases where someone hasn’t been treated. And as I said, the consequences will be significant. ”
Rory McIlroy said Thursday that despite the increase in the number of positive tests, he believed that the Tour had made the right decision to move forward with the event.
“I think people – you hear a positive test or two and people panic, and I saw a few calls to stop the tournament, which is silly from my point of view,” said McIlroy. “You know, I thought [Monahan] did a very good job explaining. There have been almost 3,000 tests administered. The percentage of positive tests is lower – it’s a quarter of a percent. I think overall it’s going very well. There are a couple of ends that we had to fix, and I think we did. “