CROMWELL, Conn. – When Sergio Garcia sank his last well on Thursday on an 18th green surrounded by a natural amphitheater usually filled with thousands of fans, the golf ball rattled from within the hole could be heard 30 meters away. A minute later, when Garcia walked up a hill, the only sound was that his pencil was scratching a last digit on a scorecard.
PGA Tour officials have said they take pride in the forefront of major American sports returning to competition after the corona virus ended nationwide athletic events. But on Thursday during the Travelers Championship – the third fan-free event in the tour's comeback – the silence was an uncanny contrast to a growing chatter about how long the itinerant circus of professional golf would keep hopping around the country.
Golf's great experiment to prove that a contactless sport operating on a nomad's schedule can safely return during a pandemic showed signs of the stress associated with trying the unprecedented .
On Wednesday, four golfers withdrew from the traveler event due to concerns over Covid-19, including Brooks Koepka and Webb Simpson, the fourth and fifth ranked players in the world. Koepka left after his caddy, Ricky Elliott, tested positive for the virus as part of the PGA Tour's multi-layered testing system. Koepka's brother, Chase, who had also qualified for the tournament, also withdrew after a practice round on Tuesday with Brooks and Elliott. Earlier in the day, former US Open champion Graeme McDowell announced that he would not participate because his caddy, Ken Comboy, tested positive for the corona virus this week.
Simpson, who won the PGA Tour event in South Carolina last week, withdrew and chose to isolate herself because a family member had recently tested positive for the virus. Two other golfers, Nick Watney and Cameron Champ, had already withdrawn from the tournament after positive test results in the past 10 days.
The quarters shocked the golf community and had Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour Commissioner, warn players of "serious consequences" if they did not follow new, stricter security protocols. When reigning the withdrawals shocked his colleagues, Shane Lowry, the reigning British Open champion, said: "The first few weeks were a kick in the ass for all of us."
Golfer's Scores Thursday went out of their way to praise the safety measures imposed by the tour, including the world's top-ranked golfer, Rory McIlroy.
"Nearly 3,000 tests have been conducted and the percentage of positive tests is less than a quarter of a percent," McIlroy said. "I think it is going very well as a whole."
But McIlroy clearly admitted that "loose ends" had to be tied, which may be the crux of the matter. Many top players have called for their brothers to be much more diligent in following recommendations for social distance on the golf course because the Implementation of those guidelines was spotty at best.Players regularly punch fists, talk face-to-face with their caddies, and stand shoulder to shoulder on tees and greens.
In addition, as other sports consider To resume competitive play within a so-called bubble for the players, golf has clearly experienced how difficult it can be to maintain a safe zone once the athletes leave the playing arena.
Many golfers have ch adhered to the guidelines of the tour, which require a lot of effort to avoid contact with others. The tour chartered an airplane to transport golfers to tournaments, banned family members from courses, and advised golfers to lock up in private, rented homes or tour-approved hotels. However, some golfers and caddies have been seen together in restaurants. And in other cases, with a field as deep as 148 players, the tour cannot limit what players do with their evenings.
Since Wednesday's positive test results, leading players have been trying to send the message that complicated individual choices run the risk of pausing the entire tour again.
"If we start doing what we want, all of us, it will probably get completely out of hand and it could get dangerous," said Garcia, who said this week's positive test results "a wake-up call ".
Updated June 24, 2020
Is it more difficult to practice wearing a mask?
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I have heard of a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?
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What is the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?
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How does the blood group affect the coronavirus?
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