Lee Westwood not playing PGA Championship due to Covid-19 fears in the US
"I'm still concerned that America doesn't take it as seriously as the rest of the world. I can control me not getting the virus and take all the measures I can, but somebody might pass it on"
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 25/07/20 9:16pm
Lee Westwood has ruled out making the trip to San Francisco for the PGA Championship as he feels the coronavirus threat is not being taken seriously enough in the United States.
Westwood prompted speculation that he would head to California for the first major of the year when he pulled out of the Hero Open, which starts on Thursday at Forest of Arden, but he then revealed he expects to return at the English Championship.
The 47-year-old admitted he was struggling for motivation with all the various restrictions and regulations in place for the British Masters, a tournament he hosted at Close House, and his waning focus was evident in a closing 79 which featured a quintuple-bogey eight at the short ninth.
Asked if he would now be heading to the US, possibly for next week's WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis, Westwood said: "No. I know they've dropped the two week quarantine now but I still don't feel comfortable and I don't feel like it is right to jump on a plane for 12 hours.
"I've felt like out of my comfort zone enough this week, so if I got to Memphis I would feel uncomfortable playing golf tournaments at the moment."
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Andrew "Beef" Johnson withdrew after just nine holes of the first round of the British Masters as he struggled to deal with being restricted to the "tournament bubble" for the week, and Westwood conceded that the "new norm" in place at Close House was tough for many of the more established players to fathom.
He added: "In 28 years of playing on Tour, this is a shock to the system, isn't it? Whenever I come out and play the tournaments now it is almost about seeing my mates and the sociable element of it all and you're not getting that at the moment.
"You can see someone like 18, 19, 20 coming out to the events and brilliant, it wouldn't be such a shock to the system, but I'm too old in the tooth for that now. I've spoken to a few people and, playing with Slats (Lee Slattery) today, he said this is really weird. So he is in the same situation
"You finish playing golf and then you go to the range. I've never seen so many players on the range at 8pm, trying to avoid their hotel rooms. There is a lot of thinking about where to play coming up really, it's just not the life I'm used to. I go out on the golf course and I am struggling for motivation a little bit, and there is a lot more to consider.
"The two big tournaments in America, next week and the following week, I'm still more concerned that America doesn't take it as seriously as the rest of the world. It still seems to be one of the hot-spots for outbreaks. I can control me not getting the virus and take all the measures I can, but somebody might pass it on.
"I don't really want to get ill with it and I'm slightly asthmatic. If I tested in Memphis I would have to stay there for two weeks and I'm not sure about insurance policies etc. Right now there are too many 'what ifs?'. If you take all them into consideration, there is something wrong. So probably Hanbury Manor will be the next one for me.
"I feel like I should play in a few of the UK Swing events to support the European Tour because they have done such an unbelievable job of putting on these tournaments. And the Tour and Close House have done an amazing job here.
"When we turned up on Monday, I was surprised how thorough everything was. I knew we were going to be on lockdown but the testing protocols we have all been through have been a success. I don't think anybody has tested positive so hopefully they will carry on next week."