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MCCARTHY: Cam Champ and Graeme McDowell withdraw … PGA Tour COVID protocol tweaked … Majors easier with no fans?

作者:admin 2020-07-21

The PGA Tour has its second COVID-19 case among players in as many weeks after Cameron Champ tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

“I feel great physically and I was obviously surprised and disappointed to learn of the test result,” Champ said. “It’s important now to take the necessary steps and measures to protect others, including my loved ones.”

Champ has withdrawn from this week’s Travelers Championship and the PGA Tour is expected to release full testing results from pre-tournament testing on Wednesday.

Last week, after playing the first round of the RBC Heritage, Nick Watney became the first player to test positive.

Late Tuesday, Golfweek reported that Graeme McDowell has also withdrawn from this week’s Travelers after his caddie Ken Comboy tested positive for the virus.

Two weeks into golf’s restart, and even before more positive test, the tour was in the process of tweaking protocols.

Jordan Spieth held a virtual press conference ahead of this week’s Travelers Championship and detailed a few of the possible changes.

“I think the idea of extra testing has come around,” Spieth said from TPC River Highland on Tuesday. “The idea of mandatory tests for anyone who was even within six feet, whether they made physical contact with somebody who had a positive test (or not).”

Champ played two weeks ago at Colonial but did not play last week at Harbour Town.

There have also been discussions whether Watney should have been allowed to continue practicing at the golf course on Friday while awaiting results. Ryan Lavner of the Golf Channel reported that Watney was near both Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy during that time.

The tour also is looking at providing dinner options for players so they don’t have to order takeout from local restaurants in host cities. Several players commented that Hilton Head was bustling with activity during last week’s RBC Heritage and that visitors to the popular vacation spot were partying pre-pandemic style. Justin Thomas described the scene away from the golf course as “an absolute zoo.”

Like the rest of society, there will be people inside the PGA Tour’s bubble taking the risk of infection more seriously than others. Brooks Koepka, who is finally healthy after battling wrist and knee injuries while winning three major championships the past two seasons, isn’t taking any chances.

“I’ve had three months off with an injury, four months off with injury, three months off sitting at home because of COVID, I’ve been eager to go play,” Koepka said. “I’ve been dying to get out here and do what I do.”

Koepka is coming off a seventh place finish last week, his best since last year’s Tour Championship, and will face another packed field this week at the Travelers Championship outside of Hartford where nine of the top ten players in the world are playing.

“I’ve told everybody on my team they’re pretty much on lockdown, if they don’t want to do that, then they don’t have to be with us,” the world No. 4 said. “There’s no reason for me to go out and do anything other than come to the golf course. I don’t come in the clubhouse at all unless for this interview. I’ve been staying outside, just going to my house and that’s it. I’m not hanging around guys.”

World No. 2 Jon Rahm, who could jump to top spot with a win this week, seems to be on the same page.

“I’ve been renting houses,” Rahm said. “I go from the golf course to the house to the golf course to the house and that’s about it.”

Nobody said this restart was going to be easy.

WHAT ABOUT THE FANS?

With it now official that there will be no fans at the first major of the season, Spieth thinks the lack of buzz could help young players this August at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

“I would imagine it would be easier to win kind of for your first time in a major without fans just because the atmosphere,” Spieth said. “At Colonial I was in contention Saturday and Sunday, and it felt like I was playing Thursday’s round. It felt no different … I would think it’s more comfortable coming down the stretch than it would normally be.”

Four-time major champ Koepka, on the other hand, wants fans back as soon as possible.

“It doesn’t feel normal at all,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to build that momentum, especially if you’ve got it going, but at the same time it’s our job so we’ve got to do it.”

One thing every player who was asked Tuesday agreed on, was that there should be no Ryder Cup without fans. Spieth pushed back slightly on a report in the U.K. Guardian on Monday saying that a one-year postponement of this year’s Ryder Cup will be announced next week.

“I know for a fact that’s not certain yet,” Spieth said. “Those are rumours. But I know that the one thing I would say about it is that I would rather wait and play with fans than play without fans and force a Ryder Cup this year.”

CHIP SHOTS

A beefed up Bryson DeChambeau has instantly turned into one of the biggest stories of this pre-major, pre-Tiger tour restart. His transformation from science guy to the amazing golf ball whacker guy is must-watch entertainment. After managing to contend two weeks in a row at tight shotmaker’s golf courses, DeChambeau will finally get a chance to “unleash the Kraken” this week at TPC River Highlands. And if the Las Vegas odds are anything to go by, we can expect big things from the game’s big hitter. The three betting favourites this week at 12/1 are DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas. Right behind them are Rahm at 16/1 and Koepka at 20/1 … Bubba Watson said that his results on any given day has a lot to do with how he feels about the players he is paired with. “There’s guys that are a shot, maybe a two-shot penalty when you see their name on that sheet,” Watson said. The two-time Masters champ understands that it’s a two-way street though. “Maybe that’s what they say about me, too, so I guess it works both ways.” Watson was famously voted the player other tour pros would be least likely to help in a bar fight in a 2015 anonymous poll. To his credit, the poll might look a little different if taken today … The shot-shaping savant Watson said on Tuesday that he learned to cut the ball by watching Tiger Woods at the 1997 Masters on television. It’s hard to imagine Bubba ever playing a one-way shot, but apparently he did. “That’s how I started cutting the ball,” he said. “I never cut the ball in my life until I turned pro and started thinking about what Tiger did.” … Speaking of shot-shaping, there are few if any players who hit it purer than 23-year-old Collin Morikawa. So when he talks about the swing, we listen: “For me a lot has to do with where I finish … above my ears for a cut, below my ears for a draw, and it’s a simple swing thought. It’s nothing on the backswing, it’s all coming through, it’s all hitting the ball,” he said. “So a little lower you want to finish with a draw, my stock little high cut is kind of around that top-of-the-ear line, and then if I’m going for a lot bigger cut I’m going to go a lot higher.”

That’s it, I’m off to the driving range.

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