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Golfers facing transatlantic tribulations as PGA Tour orders 14-day quarantine

James Corrigan



US-based: Rory McIlroy. Photo: Kenny Smith/PA Wire

US-based: Rory McIlroy. Photo: Kenny Smith/PA Wire

US-based: Rory McIlroy. Photo: Kenny Smith/PA Wire

Professional golfers and caddies living outside the United States, including those in Britain and Ireland, have been told by the PGA Tour that they will have to fulfil a two-week quarantine period in America before playing in tournaments.

With the pros expected to undergo the same period of segregation when they return to the UK, it would require them to spend a month in quarantine. That scenario has already put off England's Tommy Fleetwood from entering the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas, which on June 11 is due to become the first significant men's event to be held since the game went into lockdown on March 12.

Yesterday, Lee Westwood, the world No 31, confirmed that unless these regulations change he will probably miss the US PGA, the first Major of the season, on August 6-9.

When asked if he would play in the World Golf Championship event in Memphis and then the US PGA the week after, Westwood said: "Probably not. I've got the British Masters the week before Memphis and I figure that if there are still those conditions in place, I shouldn't be travelling that far. There is more to life than golf."

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The British Masters, of which Westwood is host, is expected to be the first European Tour event to be staged since the start of March. After that tournament, from July 23-26 at the plush Close House, Newcastle, the Tour is planning to stage a run of events in Britain in order to get around the two-week quarantine dilemma.

Of course, European players who reside in the US will not be affected, unless they deign to grace the European Tour. These include Rory McIlroy, the world No 1, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter.

Justin Rose and Matt Fitzpatrick intend to travel from their respective homes in the Bahamas and Sheffield to play in the opener at the Colonial course in Fort Worth. That means they will have to be in the US by May 27 at the latest.

The Tour has issued a 37-page document to players and officials outlining the extra measures that will be in place when competition returns, outlining a strict testing regime and measures that will be in place surrounding each tournament, as well as "strong recommendations" for travel and accommodation between events.

But those on the Tour who are currently outside the United States will face additional hurdles before they can get that far.

"We are working with the Federal government to facilitate the return of players and caddies who are currently residing outside the US and we're optimistic that is going to occur," PGA Tour senior vice president for tournament administration Andy Levinson said on a conference call. "(A 14-day quarantine) is currently in place and it is likely to continue, and so it is imperative that those constituents that we have need to come back to the US at least two weeks prior to our return to competition."

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The PGA Tour has outlined plans to test every player and official at each event, approximately 400 tests per week, once competition resumes.

Individuals must fill out a questionnaire, give a thermal reading and undertake a nasal swab or saliva test. Strict social distancing rules will also be in place, though while the Tour will "strongly recommend" certain hotels and methods of transport, it will not insist on them.

"As with commercial airlines, many hotel companies are going to be going to great lengths to ensure the health and safety of their guests, and if a player is most comfortable staying in a particular situation then he may do so, just as he may fly with a commercial airline," Levinson said.

"That being said, for these hotels we are going to identify in each community, we are going to be working with those hotels to take even greater precautions so we're going to continue to educate our players and caddies to the benefits of those facilities compared to any others in the community."

It also means that caddies such as Harry Diamond, who lives in Northern Ireland and works for McIlroy, and John McLaren, who works for Casey, have big decisions to make. Flying back and forth is not a realistic option.

Fitzpatrick owns a residence in southern Florida and could stay in the US for as long as six months to take in the rescheduled Masters in November.

While there will be no fans for at least the first four events, the PGA Tour confirmed yesterday that prize funds will not be reduced.

The Tour will not announce any positive tests that may arise due to medical confidentiality, but the individual concerned would need to withdraw from the event and undergo a period in quarantine. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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