Brooks Koepka Latest to Withdraw From Travelers Championship
The PGA Tour made its return to the course a couple of weeks ago after a three-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, which was won by Daniel Berger in a playoff over Collin Morikawa, the tour moved on to Hilton Head Island for the RBC Heritage last week. It was Webb Simpson who took a one-stroke victory over Abraham Ancer with a 22-under 262 score in the tournament. Berger finished tied for third with a 20-under 264 when all was said and done.
This week, the field makes the trek to Cromwell, Connecticut and the TPC River Highlands for the Travelers Championship. However, the field will be missing a few big names from the event this week, which could open up a chance for some of the other guys in the field.
As of Wednesday afternoon, five players had withdrawn from the field, including two of the top five players in the world rankings. Brooks Koepka, the fourth-ranked player on the tour, withdrew Wednesday after his caddie, Ricky Elliott, tested positive for the coronavirus. He had finished seventh at the RBC Heritage last week. In addition to Brooks Koepka pulling out of the tournament, so did his brother Chase Koepka, who had qualified for the tournament. The rationale for his withdrawal was centered around the fact that he was in close contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Simpson, who is the fifth-ranked player in the world and who was coming off that win at Hilton Head last weekend, withdrew from the tournament as well. Simpson said that he had a family member that tested positive for COVID-19 and that his family was the priority. He said: "I feel like it is my responsibility to take care of my family and protect my peers in the field by withdrawing.” As a result, Simpson made the decision to head to his home in Charlotte to quarantine for the interim.
Graeme McDowell’s caddie, Ken Comboy, tested positive on Tuesday for the coronavirus. On Wednesday, McDowell made the decision to withdraw due to fatigue and muscle soreness. He chose to drive back to Orlando as opposed to flying back home. He came out of the RBC Heritage ranked 51st in the current world rankings.
That group of players joined a pair of other names that will miss the field this week. Nick Watney was the first person to test positive for the coronavirus after the Charles Schwab Challenge last week and is currently quarantined. Cameron Champ, who is currently 79th in the world rankings, tested positive on Tuesday and had to withdraw from the field.
Taking two of the top five players in the world out of the mix for this week’s tournament clearly takes some of the shine off things. Still, to have only seven of the 2,757 tests administered come back as positive shows that the PGA Tour is doing some things right when it comes to trying to have competition despite the coronavirus. The plan is to have more testing going forward and discouraging players from using local gyms and restaurants. It’s a challenging time but they’re doing the best they can in order to balance safety and competition. We’ll see how things unfold from here.