Lee Westwood has questioned the United States overall handling of the Coronavirus in declaring he has no intention to travel Stateside for this week’s WGC – St. Jude Invitational and the following week’s PGA Championship.
Westwood’s name appears on the entry list for Thursday’s starting $10.5m event on the TPC Southwind course in Memphis while the current World No.34 has also qualified for the following week’s PGA Championship in San Francisco.
Both events will also be spectator-free with the PGA Championship, due to have been held in May, heading for the one of the biggest COVID-19 hit cities in the U.S.
Nine of the world’s top-10 will tee-up in Memphis with the only exception being World No. 9 Adam Scott who has spent the past four months ‘self-isolating’ in his native Australia.
It’s much the same reason why fellow former World No.1 Westwood has no intentions of crossing ‘The Pond’ and risk what he’s done in the same period as Scott before returning to competition at yesterday’s (SAT) concluding Betfred British Masters.
It’s why Westwood, who posted a ‘heart was not in it’ closing round 79 to finish last in 60th place at eight-over par, will not be tempted to leave the U.K. despite the PGA Tour being able to promise a US Government backed ‘essential personnel’ waiving of the current mandatory two-week self-isolation period for those venturing to the States
“No,” said Westwood if he was heading this week to Memphis.
“I know they can drop the two-week quarantine, 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 out of my comfort zone this week, so, if I got to Memphis, I would feel uncomfortable playing golf tournaments at the moment.
“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. There is a lot more to consider.
“The two America tournaments, 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 myself 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.”
While Westwood was delighted to have hosted the British Masters and on a Close Course he represents on Tour, he admitted given the ‘bubble’ that all players, caddies, officials and a dozen media lived for course of the tournament, he missed the off-course camaraderie that the now 47-year old enjoys.
In fact, the European Tour expended upwards of £2m in setting in place restrictions, testing and even if you were to leave the ‘bubble’ just to duck-in into a local shop or pub, you were ruled out of the ‘bubble.
Westwood said: “I’m 28 years of playing on Tour and this is a shock to the system.
“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 of think about where to play coming up, really.
“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,” he continued. “I’ve spoken to a few people – playing with Slats (Lee Slattery) today, he said this is really weird. So, he is in the same situation.
“But 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.
“The European Tour and Close House have done an amazing job. When we turned up on Monday, I was surprised how thorough everything was.
“I knew it was going to be sort of a lockdown, but the testing protocols we went through have proven a success as I don’t think anyone has tested positive and hopefully that will carry on for the next few weeks.”