Travel restrictions lifted for international golfers


International players on the PGA Tour may compete in events in the United States without delay, according to a memo sent to players on Friday which said the White House had lifted various quarantine rules put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic for “players, caddies and essential personnel.”

But Englishman Lee Westwood will not be taking advantage of the new rules — at least not immediately.

Westwood, who hosted this week’s Betfred Masters in Northumberland, England, said “I’m still more concerned that America doesn’t take it as seriously as the rest of the world.”

According to the memo sent by PGA Tour executive Tyler Dennis, players, caddies and essential personnel are now exempt from quarantine rules “as these groups are subject to COVID-19 testing and screening through the Tour’s rigorous health and safety protocols throughout a tournament week. This update replaces the 14-day quarantine period currently in place.”

Caddies, coaches and trainers would also be allowed to attend tour events without the required quarantine, but would be subject to their country’s travel restrictions when returning home. Spouses or family members would be required to adhere to the quarantine rules.

Numerous international players have yet to return to competition on the PGA Tour due to the restrictions, including Adam Scott and Francesco Molinari. England’s Tommy Fleetwood returned at the 3M Open this week after quarantining for two weeks in New York.

Westwood, who is ranked 34th in the world, did not have plans to play in the United States due to the rules. With a 14-day quarantine required, he could not have made it in time for next week’s WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and the PGA Championship the following week due to his responsibilities at his tournament, the first of six being dubbed the “UK Swing” in the European Tour’s return after nearly a four-month break.

But Westwood said after the final round on Saturday he would not take advantage of the new edict.

“I still don’t feel comfortable and I don’t feel like it is right to jump on a plane for 12 hours,” Westwood, 47, told reporters after his round. “I’ve felt out of my comfort zone this week, so if I got to Memphis I would feel uncomfortable playing golf tournaments at the moment.

“I’m 28 years of playing on tour and 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 finish playing golf and go to the range. I’ve never seen so many players on the range at 8 o’clock at night trying to avoid their hotel rooms. There is a lot to think about where to play coming up really.

“It’s just not the life I’m used to. I got out on the golf course and I am struggling for motivation a little bit. There is a lot more to consider. The two American tournaments, next week and the following week, I’m still concerned that America doesn’t take it (the virus) as seriously as the rest of the world. It still seems to be one of the hotspots 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… right now there are too many ifs.”

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