Nick Watney becomes first golfer to test positive for coronavirus

Nick Watney becomes first golfer to test positive for coronavirus after arriving for second round of RBC Heritage event displaying symptoms

  • American Nick Watney has now withdrawn from the event at Hilton Head
  • Rory McIlroy was texted as part of the PGA Tour’s ‘track and trace’ policy 
  • World No 1 had shared a conversation with Watney on putting green
  • However McIlroy is not concerned insisting ‘we kept our social distance’ 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Nick Watney has become the first golfer to test positive for Covid-19 as the game’s trouble-free progress following the 91-day lockdown came to a disturbing end at the RBC Heritage tournament in South Carolina.

Watney was feeling unwell with coronavirus symptoms when he arrived at the course before Friday’s second round and sought medical attention. He withdrew from the event following the positive test.

In accordance with PGA Tour policy, he will have to self-isolate for at least 10 days, and the fact he lives 2,250 miles away in Las Vegas means it will likely be near the tournament at Hilton Head.

Nick Watney, pictured on Thursday at the RBC Heritage event, has tested positive for Covid-19

The tour’s health protocols meant a track and trace policy went into operation. Among the players Watney texted was Rory McIlroy, after they had shared a conversation on the putting green, but the Northern Irishman was not worried. ‘We kept our social distance,’ he insisted.

Watney’s playing partners, fellow Americans Luke List and Vaughn Taylor, went straight for testing after being allowed to play their second rounds. ‘I’m feeling a bit nervous and my heart is racing,’ said Taylor.

Brooks Koepka might have needed a test as well after admitting he stood next to Watney in the car park before his second round. ‘Let’s hope it just stays with him and doesn’t spread, otherwise we’ve got a big issue on our hands,’ said the world No 3.

World No 1 Rory McIlroy was contacted as part of a ‘track and trace’ policy but he insists he kept a safe social distance to Watney having spoken to the American on the putting green

RBC HERITAGE LEADING SCORES 

SECOND ROUND 

(US unless stated. Par 71)

130 — W Simpson 65 65

131 — C Conners (Can) 68 63, B DeChambeau 67 64

132 — R Palmer 65 67

133 — I Poulter (Eng) 64 69, B Koepka 67 66, M NeSmith 66 67, A Ancer (Mex) 69 64, J Vegas (Ven) 70 63.

A tour statement said: ‘The tour has begun implementing its response plan. Watney was not on the PGA Tour chartered flight and travelled privately to Hilton Head.’

There were no positive results from the first event in Texas last week and none from the 369 players, caddies and essential personnel who were tested on Monday.

The sombre news overshadowed an intriguing day’s play, where the most talked about man in golf simply added to the conversation with another eye-catching display.

All the post-lockdown chat so far about Bryson DeChambeau had concerned the ton of weight he’s put on and the distance he’s added with his driver. But what he’s showing on the trickiest, tightest course on the PGA Tour will have tongues wagging with renewed ferocity.

The 26-year-old Californian started and ended by missing putts under five feet but still shot a marvellous 64 to be just one behind the halfway leader and his playing partner, Webb Simpson, who had statistically the best putting round of his entire career.

Bryson DeChambeau (above) impressed to end the day tied in second behind Webb Simpson

DeChambeau has started referring to his driver in terms of a mythological sea monster but, as he acknowledged: ‘This is not a place where you can unleash the Kraken.’

At Colonial last week, it was the Kraken that left everyone open-mouthed, but this time he deployed plenty of stealth to show off some of the other weapons he’s added over lockdown.

Koepka surged into contention with a 66 to be three behind, the same mark as first-round leader Ian Poulter, who shot 69. McIlroy showed the pride of a world No 1 as he bounced back from his opening 72 with a 65 to be seven back.




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