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Coronavirus: COVID-19 case inevitable after Watney tests positive, concedes McIlroy

  • World number one Rory McIlroy discussed Nick Watney's positive COVID-19 test following Saturday's third round.
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NEWS
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Modified 21 Jun 2020, 07:54 IST
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World number one Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy conceded a coronavirus case was inevitable on the PGA Tour after Nick Watney tested positive for COVID-19 during the RBC Heritage.

Watney withdrew from the RBC Heritage before the second round on Friday after contracting coronavirus amid the pandemic, which has wreaked havoc globally.

The PGA Tour only returned behind closed doors earlier this month after the season was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 crisis.

World number one McIlroy was in action during Saturday's third round, carding a five-under-par 66 to be five strokes off the pace through 54 holes.

Asked if the atmosphere had changed since the positive test, McIlroy said: "I don't think so. I think people were, they weren't naive.

"I think just statistically and looking at the numbers, someone was going to get it, and even being as careful as you can be, things happen, and you pick it up from somewhere. We're still in the middle of a pandemic. I think we've done really well to start golf again and get back up and play golf tournaments.

"I don't think anyone was blind to the fact that someone could catch the virus, and it's a shame that Nick did. But as I said last night, it's one case, and as long as it's contained to that and we move forward, we can keep playing."

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McIlroy was on the putting green with Watney on Friday, but the four-time major champion said he has not been tested for coronavirus.

"I didn't feel like I was in close enough proximity, and I wasn't feeling any symptoms," he said. "I feel totally fine. I saw him on the putting green, and we kept our distance, and that was it."

Sergio Garcia – the 2017 Masters champion – shot a third-round 65 to be tied for eighth at Hilton Head Island, two strokes behind leaders Tyrrell Hatton, Abraham Ancer, Ryan Palmer and Webb Simpson.

On Watney's positive test, Garcia added: "My first reaction was I was surprised. I felt terrible for Nick because he's probably one of the nicest guys on TOUR. Unfortunately, it had to happen to him. So there's a lot of other people that probably deserved it a lot more than him, and he's the one that got it. 

"I was a little bit afraid because I gave him a ride on Tuesday, but when we landed on Tuesday, we got tested. We were both negative. So it was all good. Then I was surprised to hear that he tested positive two days, three days later. Obviously, I got my test done yesterday, and I was negative."

Published 21 Jun 2020, 07:54 IST
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