‘It’s clear I never had it’: Flurry of tests landed Cameron Champ back on the PGA Tour

Cameron Champ

Cameron Champ fired a first-round 69 Thursday at Detroit Golf Club.

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DETROIT — It was a wild week of coronavirus tests that helped Cameron Champ back into PGA Tour competition. And according to Champ, specialists he’s worked with believe he has not had the virus at all.

Champ played the first round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic Thursday less than 24 hours after receiving word that he’d be re-added to the field, the first example of updated guidelines for asymptomatic players and caddies. After shooting a 3-under 69, he repeatedly said “at this point it’s clear that I never had [the virus].”

Whether he did or not, the 25-year-old was the second Tour player to test positive and is now the first to do so and re-enter competition. After his initial positive test, Champ worked with a specialist and tested negative on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week, which allowed him to freely travel home to Houston. Then, when the Tour altered its protocols, Champ was invited up to Detroit where he took another test, waited for a negative result and headed to the course. When he arrived, he was treated normally by his peers.

“It was just nice not to have people look at me [with] ‘Oh, he has Corona, we have to be careful’ type deal,” Champ said. “The support, it definitely makes it easier to come back.”

With PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan watching on from afar, as Champ reached the first tee, the starter offered some small talk: “Someone said you had a Covid testing issue.” Champ, while marking his ball, said simply, “Yeah, you could say that.” Four hours and 45 minutes later, he holed out for birdie from a bunker on 9 and a handful of questions from the media.

While protocols changing from day to day has led to plenty of confusion for all involved, one thing is clear: many players seem focused on following the rules this week. Just one week after a strongly-worded memo warned Tour players that they must be more stringent in policing themselves, many players and caddies are wearing masks while indoors at Detroit Golf Club. One caddie even wore a mask throughout the round, even in the sweltering 90-degree temps.

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A senior editor for GOLF.com, Zak joined the staff GOLF staff three weeks after college graduation. He is the utility infielder of the brand, spanning digital, print and video. His main duty is as a host for various GOLF.com video properties and its award-winning podcasts. When the Masters comes around, be sure to tune in to hear him and fellow staffers recount the most memorable tournaments in Augusta National history on A Pod Unlike Any Other.