Two more players withdraw from Travelers, including one after positive Covid-19 test
Denny McCarthy tested positive for Covid-19 and withdrew from the Travelers Championship prior to Friday’s second round. One of his first-round playing partners, Bud Cauley, has also withdrawn as a precautionary measure. These WDs join a handful of players and caddies who dropped out of the Cromwell, Conn., event earlier in the week.
McCarthy’s WD was first reported by Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner, who said that McCarthy told him he woke up in the middle of the night and felt achy and sore.
The Tour returned at the Charles Schwab Challenge on June 8 after three months off due to the coronavirus pandemic, and there were no positive tests at Colonial Country Club. Nick Watney became the first player to test positive at last week’s RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island, S.C., but more positive tests came this week. Cameron Champ tested positive and withdrew on Wednesday, Brooks Koepka and Graeme McDowell both withdrew after their caddies tested positive and Webb Simpson — last week’s Tour winner — withdrew after a member of his family tested positive.
Chase Koepka, the younger brother of Brooks Koepka who had to Monday qualify to get in the field, also withdrew as a precautionary measure. He stayed at Brooks’ house on Monday and played a practice round Tuesday with McDowell, whose caddie, Ken Comboy, tested positive.
The latest round of WDs on Wednesday led to a cancelation of the remainder of that day’s scheduled press conferences, and instead an impromptu briefing from PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. He issued a stark reminder to players, caddies and anyone on site to adhere to social distancing and safety protocols while also announcing increased measures in the Tour’s health and safety plan.
Monahan added that 2,757 total tests had been administered as of Wednesday (including the Korn Ferry Tour) over the last three weeks with seven total positives. He was asked what that number needs to be to elevate concern.
“It’s pretty clear that this virus isn’t going anywhere,” Monahan said. “I think everybody should expect that you’re going to have more tests as we go forward and we are going to be very sensitive to the specifics of every single test. But going to be spending a ton of time making sure we reinforce the strong protocols we have.”
McCarthy, 27, opened with a 67 and was seven off the lead. McCarthy also played four rounds at the Charles Schwab Challenge and missed the cut last week at Harbour Town. His caddie, Derek Smith, tested negative on Friday. The Tour said it conducted 16 additional tests to those who might have had contact with McCarthy, and all were negative. Cauley, who opened with 69, tested negative twice but withdrew anyway. The other player in that threesome, Matt Wallace (70), did not WD.
The Travelers is the third of the Tour’s first five events back where no fans are allowed, but at last week’s RBC Heritage Justin Thomas expressed concern with some of the things he was seeing off the course.
“No offense to Hilton Head, but they’re seeming to not take it very seriously,” he said. “It’s an absolute zoo around here. There’s people everywhere. The beaches are absolutely packed. Every restaurant, from what I’ve seen when I’ve been driving by, is absolutely crowded.”
Rory McIlroy, who said months ago the Tour should shut it down if a player or caddie tested positive, said on Thursday that canceling this week’s event would be “silly.”
“You hear one or two positive tests and people are panicking,” he said. “You know, I thought [Monahan] did a really good job explaining. There’s been almost 3,000 tests administered. The percentage of positive tests is under — it’s a quarter of a percent. I think as a whole, it’s been going really well. There’s a couple of loose ends that we needed to tidy up, and I think we’ve done that.”