World No. 4 Brooks Koepka has told Golfweek that he is withdrawing from the Travelers Championship after his caddie, Ricky Elliott, became the latest to test positive for coronavirus on the PGA Tour.
Elliott tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday morning at TPC River Highlands having previously tested negative 48 hours earlier when he arrived at the tournament.
“I’m going to pull out to protect everybody else. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Koepka said. “I don’t want to risk anyone’s life if they have respiratory issues or underlying conditions. The only way this Tour can continue is if guys to do this sort of thing and be proactive about it.”
Elliott, Koepka and his coach Claude Harmon III went for additional COVID tests as a precaution after playing a practice round with Graeme McDowell on Tuesday. McDowell told Golfweek Tuesday night that he would withdraw from the Travelers after learning that his caddie, Ken Comboy, had tested positive. Comboy is isolating in Florida and had not traveled to Hartford for the event. McDowell tested negative on Monday and had another test Wednesday morning and planned to return to his Orlando home on a private plane.
“We all got tested Monday—myself, Claude and Ricky. We all came back negative,” Koepka said. “We had no symptoms. Nothing.”
Awaiting results at their rented home near the course Wednesday morning, Koepka and Harmon learned they had returned negative tests but were shocked when Elliott was positive. Koepka immediately opted to withdraw. “Ricky has my full support in this. I feel bad for him,” the four-time major winner said. “We have got to do everything we can to not spread it. We have to protect the field. That’s the reason we have these rules.”
Koepka has maintained a strict lockdown of his team during the first three events back on Tour, staying together with a chef in rented homes and leaving only to go to the golf course or get tested. The only occasion on which a member of the team left that bubble was on Monday, June 15, when Elliott joined McDowell and Comboy at the funeral of a close friend in Orlando. According to McDowell, Comboy now believes he may have been exposed to the virus during a commercial flight he took two days earlier on June 13 from Dallas to Orlando after the Charles Schwab Challenge.
McDowell confirmed to Golfweek on Wednesday morning that he has again tested negative for coronavirus.
Koepka says his girlfriend Jena Sims and his chef are being tested Wednesday at the golf course. Based on the results, he will decide if they return home to Jupiter, Florida, today or need to quarantine in Hartford. “I’d rather be safe than sorry,” he said. All members of Koepka’s team plan to get tested regularly in the coming days.
The positive tests for Elliott and Comboy come as a blow to the PGA Tour, which has also seen two players test positive—Nick Watney last week and Cameron Champ, whose result and WD was announced yesterday. On Wednesday it was revealed that the Tour is distributing over 1,000 Whoop devices to players and officials to monitor their health. It was Whoop technology that initially alerted Watney to his status.
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