HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Five-time PGA Tour winner Nick Watney tested positive Friday for the coronavirus, the first player with a confirmed infection since golf resumed its schedule last week.
Watney withdrew immediately withdrew from the RBC Heritage and must self-isolate for at least 10 days under the PGA Tour’s protocols.
He did not return a telephone call seeking comment. Watney played the opening round with Vaughn Taylor and Luke List.
Watney missed the cut last week in the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas. He travelled on his own to South Carolina, and his coronavirus test upon arrival at Harbour Town was negative.
Before arriving to the course for his second round, he reported symptoms consistent with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. Watney was tested again, and the result came back positive.
The tour had no positive tests of the 487 administered at Colonial, and none among the 98 players tested before taking the charter to Hilton Head or the 369 tests for those arriving on their own.
Players, caddies and essential personnel have mandatory tests.
“For the health and well-being of all associated with the tournament those within the community, the tour has begun implementing its response plan in consultation with medical experts, including working with those who may have had close contact with Nick,” the tour said in a statement.
The tour said it would not comment further. It is scheduled to play next week in Cromwell, Connecticut, where the Travelers Championship is testing everyone — including volunteers and media — who will be on property.
That was a decision by the tournament. The PGA Tour has tried to create a bubble of its key people at tournaments, designating player hotels as an option and urging everyone in the bubble to avoid outside contact. Some players have been renting houses. There is no regulation if they choose to eat out.
Hilton Head has been particularly busy this week, with local restaurants packed with people who typically come to this quiet island on the Atlantic coast for vacation.
Under the tour’s guidelines for a positive test, Watney is to self-isolate for at least 10 days provided he has no subsequent symptoms or two negative test results 24 hours apart or more.
The tour will provide a stipend to pay for the costs of his self-isolation.
Watney has five victories, most recently in 2012 at Bethpage Black in the FedEx Cup playoff opener. He has struggled to regain his top form since missing 10 months in 2016 because of back surgery.