Hideki Matsuyama and Bubba Watson have both withdrawn from the 149th Open Championship after brushes with COVID-19.
Matsuyama tested positive before the second round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, July 2. He has been in quarantine since then and is currently symptom-free, but subsequent PCR tests have continued to show positive results.
“I’m feeling fine but haven’t been able to practice in preparation for the Open,” he said. “Combining that with the difficult travel to the UK, my team and I decided it’s best to withdraw to ensure everyone’s safety. I feel badly missing the Open and look forward to playing again at St. Andrews next year.”
The Japanese player has been replaced in the field at Royal St. George’s by Harold Varner III.
Two-time Masters champion Watson pulled out after being identified as a close contact of an individual testing positive for COVID-19. His spot goes to John Catlin.
In the still-evolving world related to name, image and likeness freedoms for amateur golfers and college athletes, the USGA last week eased some concerns by updating its NIL policy to waive most potential policy violations for the remainder of this year.
The USGA’s new rules for amateurs will go into effect Jan. 1, 2022, and the latest update is intended to bridge the time period until then.
Provided college players do not do anything to cost them their eligibility under new NCAA guidelines that went into effect July 1, the USGA essentially will follow along.
“There are about 20,000 collegiate golfers here in the U.S.,” said Craig Winter, the USGA’s senior director for rules and amateur status. “Many of them will be impacted by what the NCAA has decided to do here and our best path forward we felt would be to allow them to benefit from their name, image and likeness.
“Basically our message to them is if the NCAA is determining that you’re still eligible to participate in collegiate golf … in almost all cases you’re going to still be an amateur golfer.”
The biggest stipulation from the USGA guidelines is that golfers may not benefit from giving instruction. That rule will remain in effect in the future.
The USGA also encourages college golfers to tell tournament directors of any NIL-related activities they may have.
Four players have qualified for the 149th Open Championship through the Abrdn Scottish Open and Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge.
Min Woo Lee, Thomas Detry and Jack Senior will take their places at the famous Kent links after finishing as the leading three golfers not already exempt in the Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club.
Marcel Siem, who won Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge in France, also will play in the Open after finishing as the leading golfer not already exempt in the Challenge Tour event.
Double major winner Ángel Cabrera will serve two years in prison after he was found guilty of assaulting, threatening and harassing former partner Cecilia Torres Mana.
The winner of the 2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters was convicted in Córdoba, Argentina, of the crimes, which took place between 2016 and 2018. Cabrera pleaded innocent but those pleas fell on deaf ears. He started his sentence immediately after the verdict was delivered.
The 51-year-old left Argentina without authorization in July last year. Córdoba officials issued an arrest warrant and Interpol agents apprehended Cabrera in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in January. He was extradited to Argentina last month to face trial.
“His situation is much more complex than this, he has other charges for which there are arrest warrants, too. There are other victims,” prosecutor Laura Battistelli told television network TN.
Samuel Ryder intended his eponymous cup to highlight the spirit of golf, a game based on integrity, honesty and etiquette. Those qualities will be honoured this year with the introduction of the Nicklaus-Jacklin Award.
The award will honor one player from each team who best embodies Ryder Cup spirit. Players who display sportsmanship and teamwork combined with performance will receive the award at this year’s match at Whistling Straits.
Jack Nicklaus famously conceded Tony Jacklin a 2-foot putt in the 1969 match at Royal Birkdale, which ensured a halved match. The two protagonists, past captains of the European and U.S. sides, a representative of presenting sponsor Aon and representatives of Sky Sports and NBC Sports will form the selection panel, with the awards presented at the conclusion of this year’s match at Whistling Straits.
Tommy Fleetwood has credited fellow Englishman Justin Rose for his decision to represent Team Great Britain at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Fleetwood, Paul Casey, Mel Reid and Jodi Ewart Shadoff will form the British team. They are eager to chase Olympic gold despite Lee Westwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick, Charley Hull and Georgia Hall turning down the chance to play for varying reasons.
Fleetwood is arguably the most eager of the quartet thanks to Rose winning gold in Rio de Janeiro five years ago as golf returned to the Games for the first time since 1904.
“What came from that was the surprise of how proud Justin was and the emotions he felt from winning,” Fleetwood said. “He spoke to me about it a lot. I just think it was really cool seeing his face light up and hearing him talk about how he felt about not only competing in the Olympics but being an Olympic gold medalist. It was very, very cool seeing him and watching him talk about it.”
Fleetwood said he can’t wait to represent his country.
“You’re not just playing as an individual,” the Englishman said. “You’re playing for the nation. I don’t think we would see that as pressure. We would see that as a proud moment and something that we’re really, really excited about. It is fantastic that we’ve had a gold medalist for our sport, and I’m sure we would all just absolutely love to keep that going.”
Perry O’Neal Dye, a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and the son of Pete Dye, died Thursday in Denver, Colorado, at age 68.
A member of one of the most famous families in golf, Dye received his first experience building golf courses at age 12, when he began an apprenticeship under his father. He accompanied his father to work on sites in the Midwest and the Dominican Republic through his youth and college years.
Perry Dye formed Dye Designs in 1984. The company is known for building unique, environmentally sensitive golf courses. In 1986, Dye Designs further expanded internationally as Perry recognized the growing demand and market for world-wide golf services. In Japan alone, Perry designed nearly two dozen golf courses, and Dye-designed facilities can be found in more than 15 countries.
With more than 80 courses to his credit, Dye’s dedication to golf included promoting growth within the golf course industry.
“This is a great loss for golf design, but right now we should all be sending our love and support to the Dye family,” ASGCA president Forrest Richardson said. “Perry and I shared many good times, and I am so grateful to have spent time with him at the 2020 Golf Industry Show just before the COVID-19 lockdowns began. As usual, he was full of life, smiling and telling stories. We will miss him.”
National Football League quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Bryson DeChambeau defeated quarterback Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson, 3 and 2, at The Match 4 played at Moonlight Basin in Montana (READ MORE). ... RBC, the PGA of America and Ryder Cup Europe have announced a one-year agreement establishing the Canadian bank as a worldwide partner of the 2020 Ryder Cup (READ MORE). ... The golf competitions at the Olympic Games will be played without spectators, after the Japanese government declared a new state of emergency for COVID-19 and ruled out all fans (READ MORE).
Staff and Wire Reports