Everyone in his group withdrew, but Matt Wallace played the PGA Tour Traveler Championship


CROMWELL, Connecticut – Matt Wallace got out of the cart, grabbed his bag and walked 5 feet to the first tee at TPC River Highlands. He still had six minutes before his departure time. He could have waited six hours. No one else was coming.”It’s just me today,” he said to Ron Scheyd, the starter who announced each player’s name before launching his first shot in the air.

One of his play partners, Denny McCarthy, retired earlier today.

“The crown caught him,” said Wallace as he stood on the tee, alone, waiting for his caddy as they were about to start a leisurely stroll on another already strangely calm golf course and without fan on the PGA Tour.

AP Photo / Frank Franklin II

After McCarthy – the third PGA Tour player to test positive for COVID-19 – withdrew, Bud Cauley’s name suddenly appeared with a “WD” next to it. Cauley had played alongside McCarthy in the first round on Thursday. According to Wallace, Cauley said he was not feeling well and that is why he decided not to put him back into play on Friday.

“He said he didn’t feel good, he didn’t feel good,” said Wallace after posting a 2 of 72. “I can understand why he wouldn’t play. I did not feel better myself. I play with a chance to change my career if I win, so why shouldn’t I play? ”

Cauley became the seventh player in this week’s travel championship to retire due to the virus. Cameron Champ, who tested positive earlier this week, retired on Tuesday. Graeme McDowell and Brooks Koepka left on Wednesday after their cadets tested positive. Brooks’ brother Chase Koepka, who secured a spot on the field as a qualifier for Monday, and Webb Simpson also withdrew.

“What Denny, Bud and others demonstrate is exactly what we asked everyone – keep doing your part by taking this virus seriously and taking care not only of your own health, but also of your own. Competing colleagues and those you might come in contact with, “said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in a statement.

However, there was Wallace standing on the tee at 1:30 p.m. AND. He was the third member of the group. He stood alongside McCarthy and Cauley for the first round on Thursday. They left this week’s event. He continued.

“It is black and white for me,” he said. “I tested negative. I can go play. ”

But at those times, right after his phone rang at 8 a.m. and he discovered that his two playmates were not feeling well, he became nervous.

“We came straight [to the golf course] and I have been tested, “he said. And then we stayed here, but we made sure to stay away from everyone because we potentially knew something could happen. ”

It was then that his mind ran a little more.

“I was scared when I heard,” he said on the first tee as the players passed by, asking what had happened and how he felt.

Matt Wallace was alone Friday after his two game partners withdrew, one for a positive coronavirus test, the other as a precaution. Nick Pietruszkiewicz / ESPN.com

If fear was still present while he was waiting to hear his name, he hid it with a few jokes before embarking on an unusual round in a sport that was full of it in the three weeks following the PGA Tour returns after a three-month hiatus in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

More players have passed. He asked them if they wanted to join.

As he was about to strike his opening shot, he made a prediction.

“You can just mark me for a 59.”

He greeted, well, nobody after blowing his first tee shot at 319 yards into the fairway at the first hole downhill.

After hitting, he stayed there for a second, mostly out of habit. He didn’t need it; no one else was waiting to start their rounds. It was just him.

Finally, at the third hole, he heard a noise, a pause in calm. He backed off from the tee because a few holes in front of some people who have houses on the TPC River Highlands course cheered on Phil Mickelson.

At the green, after his birdie putt wobbled and tapped for the peer, he pulled his putter out of his bag. As his cadet put the flag back in the hole, Wallace walked over to the next T-shirt, muttering. After all, that day, there weren’t many people to talk to, anyway.

He wished he had a playmate next door and wished the PGA Tour had adjusted a tee time for him.

With Matt Wallace playing as a single, it was very quiet on the 10th tee. Nick Pietruszkiewicz / ESPN.com

“Just a little frustrated that maybe … I don’t know what the PGA Tout might think, but[[Dustin Johnson]play alone? “Said Wallace. »Did Rory [McIlroy] play alone? I probably doubt it. So they could have dropped one of the players from before or maybe from behind to go ahead and play with me. I don’t think it’s a good thing to leave someone in the middle of the pack. ”

But he continued for the next 4 hours and 41 minutes, just him and his caddy and only one marker walking. He hit his left tee on # 10, then grabbed his sandwich, just a guy having lunch alone on the golf course.

He made two bogeys and a new birdie on his back. As he approached the 18th green, seeing his ball nestled in the rough next to the green, he shook his head. He looked tired. He was ready for a long day to do.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the end of the world,” he said. “It was not the best day. “


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