Monday, Harris English released a statement through the PGA Tour (and not Butts-Mehre) that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and has immediately withdrawn from week’s upcoming Rocket Mortgage Classic.
PGA TOUR statement - COVID-19 Update - June 29, 2020 pic.twitter.com/dBHwBjeiWu— PGA TOUR Communications (@PGATOURComms) June 29, 2020
English, who graduated from UGA in 2011 and has been playing professional golf since then, is the fifth PGA Tour member to test positive since the Tour resumed competition 3 weeks ago. In that time, Nick Watney, Cameron Champ (also Tour winners), Dylan Frittelli and Dylan McCarthy have also tested positive. Several Tour caddies have tested positive, and their players/bosses have withdrawn at that time.
The PGA Tour is really the biggest professional sport in the US to restart competition, holding it’s first tournament in over 90 days earlier this month. With an average field of about 150 players each week, this is a small number of positive tests. But the PGA Tour put in detailed protocols for testing individuals before each round; this includes caddies, coaches, equipment representatives, etc. And the testing does seem to be working.
Harris English is a Valdosta native, proud of his hometown and just as proud to be a Georgia Bulldog. He has two career PGA Tour victories and over $14 million in earnings. The sad part for me as a fan is that English is having his best season out of his last five - he really struggled the last few years but came out of the gates hot before the Tour halted play in early March.
The bigger question surrounds the PGA Tour itself: they’ve now had 3 consecutive weeks with players testing positive. And this is with no fans, and severe restrictions on any attendees from press and media. They have a private chartered plane for players and caddies, and secured specific lodging and dining for players at each tournament in order to reduce exposure from the general public.
What is the magic number where they halt the season once again? The Masters was already pushed to November, the PGA Championship is scheduled to be played without fans, and the oldest golf tournament in the world (aka British Open) was canceled. Will the Tour cancel the season, or at least stop tournament play again?
With a sport as wide open as golf, where there is little to no physical contact and is played exclusively outdoors, you can bet the big 4 sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, and college football) are looking closely at these results. Probably the NHL is too, but I don’t count that.
What do you think will happen? Will they continue play as long as the positive tests for players is 1% or under? Will they rework the schedule to play in more of a bubble? Let us know in the comments. But for now, join me in wishing Harris English, DGD, a speedy recovery/quarantine, and as always...