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‘An absolute zoo’: Positive test, busy island rattle golf – The Globe and Mail



Carlos Ortiz headed for dinner near the Harbour Town lighthouse and it felt like old times, which didn’t necessarily mean good times.

This idyllic island is a summer destination, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s a 30-minute wait, and once you get in there, there’s no social distancing, packed tables right next to each other, kids running around,” Ortiz said Saturday at the RBC Heritage. “We were impressed how nobody was wearing a mask. We talked about it on Tuesday when we saw it. We were like, ‘Oh, somebody’s going to get corona here.’ It’s crazy how busy it is in here inside the island.”

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Three days later, Nick Watney became the first PGA Tour player to test positive for the coronavirus.

In this Oct. 12, 2018, file photo, Nick Watney, of the United States, follows his shot on the eighteenth hole during round two of the CIMB Classic golf tournament at Tournament Players Club (TPC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Watney became the first PGA Tour player to test positive for COVID-19. He withdrew from the RBC Heritage on Friday, June 19, 2020.

The Associated Press

The tour put in motion part of its plan to handle such a result, starting with 11 additional tests for anyone who might have come in close contact with Watney. The initial tests all came back negative — including Tony Navarro, his caddie, and Vaughn Taylor, who played with Watney on Thursday.

Results from a second test were expected late Saturday or Sunday.

Golf made it through 11 days of its return before getting a positive test. The question now becomes who’s next, or how many more, before the show can’t go on.

Rory McIlroy, who chatted with Watney on the putting green shortly before the test result was returned, says sheer numbers made it virtually impossible to think no one in golf would test positive. He was not part of the contact tracing because “we kept our distance” on the putting green.

“We’re still in the middle of a pandemic,” McIlroy said. “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 Nick did. But as I said, it’s one case. And as long as it’s contained to that and we move forward, we can keep playing.”

More stories emerged of a South Carolina resort that was busy as ever, even though fans aren’t allowed on the golf course.

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The tournament is typically played in April, the week after the Masters, when school is still in session. With the pandemic shutting down golf for three months, the RBC Heritage originally was cancelled, and then moved to June after the Canadian Open was cancelled and the U.S. Open was moved to September.

“Even if you wanted to go somewhere, there’s no place to go,” Joel Dahmen said. “We tried to rent bikes this week, and they’re sold out.”

Watney missed the cut last week at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and drove home to Austin before flying to South Carolina with Sergio Garcia, who also lives in Austin.

He tested negative when they arrived, and according to McIlroy and Garcia, what led Watney to report symptoms was data on his Whoop strap that measures such metrics as heart rate, sleep and recovery.

“So it was his Whoop that told him his respiratory rate went up, and that’s why he thought, ‘Maybe I could have it,’” McIlroy said.

Garcia also was tested again Friday and said he was nervous waiting four-plus hours for the result. He said Watney apologized to him “probably 25 times” and that in his text exchanges, Watney said he is feeling fine.

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Watney must self-isolate for at least 10 days. It ends provided he has no subsequent symptoms or has two negative test results at least 24 hours apart.

Under the tour’s 37-page “Return to Golf” protocols, players have a designated hotel that is not mandatory. They are urged not to eat out at restaurants, also a recommendation for caddies and the essential personnel who must be tested when they arrive at every tournament.

It’s up to them what they do after hours.

Justin Thomas is staying in a villa with Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, and they brought a chef. Thomas was among those who noted how busy it was on the island.

“No offence to Hilton Head, but they’re seeming to not take it very seriously,” Thomas said. “It’s an absolute zoo around here. There’s people everywhere. The beaches are absolutely packed. Every restaurant, from what I’ve seen when I’ve been driving by, is absolutely crowded.”

Navarro said in a text he tested negative. He is self-isolating in Hilton Head, able to go to the store provided he wears a mask. He said he was staying to help Watney with anything he needs, and then planned to drive him home to Texas.

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The tour administered 954 tests over the opening two weeks of its return — 487 at Colonial last week in Fort Worth, Texas, 98 for those who took the charter flight to South Carolina and 369 at Hilton Head. All were negative until Watney’s positive test on Friday.

Did that allow for a false sense of confidence?

Taylor’s test Friday also came back negative, and he spent he spent the evening watching television reports about the various sports coping with positive tests, whether it was Clemson’s football team or Major League Baseball training sites.

“It’s eye-opening to see how much the virus is out there and how careful we have to be,” Taylor said. “I felt like coming in the last week everyone was super careful, and then we got here, and the vibe on the island is a little more relaxed. I feel like we might have gotten a little more relaxed, too. Everyone has kind of ratcheted it up a little bit. Not hanging out with too many people, hanging with too many guys, stay out of restaurants and bars and those things.

“I think if we do that, we should be safe,” he said. “We’ve all got to keep that in the back of our mind and just be smart.”

The PGA Tour heads to Cromwell, Connecticut, next week, followed by Detroit and then back-to-back tournaments in Ohio.

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“We’ve got to see what happens,” Koepka said. “It’s unfortunate Nick got it, but at the same time, hopefully, it stays with just him and doesn’t spread. Because I think we’ll have a big issue on our hands if it keeps going as the weeks continue.”

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Players sitting out Orlando Tournament: Vela, Onuoha and five Whitecaps –



Lucas Cavallini tight shot SOLO

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS is Back Tournament kicks off on Wednesday, July 8 and the details of the club rosters are gradually being revealed. 

Below is information provided by some of the clubs regarding the personnel that traveled to Orlando:

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced on July 7 that they will compete without five players who will sit out the tournament. Forwards Lucas Cavallini, Tosaint Ricketts and Fredy Montero are among the five — along with Andy Rose and Georges Mukumbilwa.

In an Instagram post, Montero said it wasn’t an easy decision, but “my family and I have had a complicated few months not only with being isolated in Canada without family or friends but also with an unforeseen health emergency.”

The Colombian forward said he was “deeply disappointed” he’ll be unable to help teammates, but looks forward to rejoining them after the tournament.

Ricketts will not be playing due to a pre-existing condition, Rose’s wife is set to give birth during the tournament and Mukumbilwa — a Canadian permanent resident — was not cleared to travel outside of Canada

Cavallini, the team’s new starting forward, released the following statement.

“This was an extremely difficult decision for me. I would love to be out on the field with my teammates fighting with everything I have to play for this club and community in Orlando. Unfortunately COVID-19 has had a very big impact, taking away two beloved members of my family. I feel that it is best that I remain home to support my loved ones at this challenging time.”

Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake defender Nedum Onuoha on July 7 explained his decision to sit out the tournament. The defender said he didn’t feel comfortable being separated from his wife and children for a month during the global pandemic. The veteran central defender said he has the support of his teammates and the RSL coaching staff.


On July 6, reigning league MVP Carlos Vela revealed that he would remain in Los Angeles to be with his pregnant wife and support her during a “risk pregnancy.” The following was his statement via a league release: 

“I would like nothing more than to be with my teammates in Orlando. I always want to give everything I have to my club, our fans and supporters and the city of L.A. However, it is in the best interest of the health of my family to stay home and be with my wife during what is a risky pregnancy. I will miss being with my teammates and coaches, but I will be cheering and supporting LAFC from a distance. I can’t wait to be back on the field, playing for all of you and accomplishing great things with our club. Vamos LAFC!”

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Jays handed tough schedule amid much uncertainty – TSN



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TORONTO — The Blue Jays don’t have a home yet, but they’re facing one of the toughest schedules in baseball regardless of the city they reside in.

If they end up playing games at all.

Slated to open their 60-game regular season on July 24 in Tampa against the Rays when the 2020 MLB schedule was officially revealed Monday evening, the Jays organization spent the day working through the logistical challenges that surrounded another positive COVID-19 test in Dunedin, and the subsequent grounding of a number of players who came in contact with that teammate.

While a group of Blue Jays — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are two of the stars in town — were able to get on the field at Rogers Centre on Monday for a private workout that was closed to the media, it meant a portion of the Jays’ 60-man player pool is still stuck in Dunedin.

The team would not confirm who was left behind or the latest COVID-19 case.

On Monday morning, the Jays were also still awaiting test results for team personnel from Friday, as much of baseball experienced testing snafus over the July 4 holiday weekend.

Not a good start.

A week since intake testing officially began on July 1 when players reported to camps, the number of revealed positive COVID-19 cases has been reasonable, according to data released by the league, but it has not been a calming experience for many players across baseball.

In announcing their schedule Monday evening, the Jays left a reminder of just how much is still unsettled, with opening day for the club now officially a little more than two weeks away.

“While no final decision has been made on a site for Blue Jays regular season home games, the club’s preference remains Rogers Centre,” the statement read. “The team continues to pursue this option with the health and safety of the general public and the team at the forefront and will communicate an update as information becomes available.”

You can be sure that the federal government has been watching the MLB testing process closely, and the latest positive case emerging from Dunedin as the team got set to charter north isn’t good for perception.

Despite the uncertainty of where they’ll play home games, the Jays’ schedule won’t change, no matter if they’re playing at Rogers Centre or out of the club’s spring training facility, TD Ballpark, in Dunedin.

Either way, it’s a tough one.

Subjectively, there’s the obvious road through legit World Series contenders in the AL East in the New York Yankees (10 games) and Rays (10 games), while the NL East cross-over format features the defending champion Washington Nationals (four games), the 97-win Atlanta Braves (three games), and potential contenders in the Philadelphia Phillies (six games) and New York Mets (three games).

Objectively, it’s the third-toughest strength of schedule based on 2019 winning percentage at .567, behind only the Mets (.571) and Pirates (.568).

Starting with three games against the Rays and then four against the Nats is a challenge, equalled perhaps by a stretch run that sees the Jays facing the Yankees 10 times in 19 games.

Another wrinkle this year — not that it matters for fans heading to the ballpark because that won’t be happening in 2020 — is first pitch for all Jays home games from Monday through Saturday will be 6:37 p.m. ET, rather than their usual 7:07 p.m. first pitch.

On Sundays, they’ll start at 3:07 p.m.

If they start at all.

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Nashville SC vs. Chicago Fire FC game postponed, two other MLS is Back Tournament games rescheduled –



Major League Soccer announced on Tuesday that the MLS is Back Tournament game between Nashville SC and Chicago Fire FC, scheduled for July 8, has been postponed.

The timing of two other games in the MLS is Back Tournament have also been rescheduled. The Toronto FC vs. D.C. United Group C game, originally scheduled for July 10, has been moved to July 12 at 9 am ET (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN, TVAS in Canada) due to Toronto’s delayed arrival in Orlando. As a result, the game between San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders scheduled for July 10 will now be played at 9 pm ET (ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN, TVAS in Canada).

The league confirmed that five Nashville players had tested positive for COVID-19 since arriving in Orlando on July 3, two at the weekend and three more on Monday night. Four more Nashville players are currently awaiting further testing after receiving inconclusive test results.

In conjunction with the club, MLS said it will continue to evaluate Nashville SC’s participation in the MLS is Back Tournament following the results of additional testing. Further information on when the game between Nashville and Chicago will be rescheduled will be announced at a later date.

In addition to the five Nashville players, the league confirmed on Monday that 10 FC Dallas players and one player from a third club have also received confirmed positive tests. FC Dallas were withdrawn from the tournament on Monday. Testing results from the five clubs that arrived on July 6 will be available later on Tuesday. 

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