CROMWELL, Conn. — One day after Cameron Champ was forced to withdraw from the Travelers Championship after testing positive for coronavirus, both Brooks Koekpa and Graeme McDowell withdrew on Wednesday morning because their caddies have come down with COVID-19.
McDowell and Koepka played a practice round together, alongside Shane Lowry and Brooks’ brother, Chase, who remains in the field for the event.
Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliott, tested positive on Wednesday morning.
“I’m going to pull out to protect everybody else. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Koepka told Golfweek. “I don’t want to risk anyone’s life if they have respiratory issues or underlying conditions. The only way this Tour can continue is if guys to do this sort of thing and be proactive about it.”
McDowell said that his long-time caddie, Ken Comboy, tested positive for COVID-19 and began experiencing symptoms last week. McDowell, who tested negative on Monday upon his arrival to Connecticut, told Golfweek he planned to have another test Wednesday before returning home to Florida.
“For the protection of the field and for my own physical and mental well-being, I’m going to take a test tomorrow morning then jump on a private plane,” McDowell said. “I’m going to get myself out of here, home to Florida and decide whether I need to quarantine myself from my family.”
McDowell was replaced in the field by alternate David Hearn.
McDowell missed the cut at last week’s PGA Tour event in South Carolina after attending a friend’s funeral with Comboy on June 15.
“I’d been through a huge amount emotionally and mentally, and a couple of weeks back into it after a few months off you’re going to be a little tired getting your golf legs back,” McDowell said. “But the alarm bells have started to ring now that Kenny has failed this test. We’re a close-knit team. We roomed together last week. We spent six hours in a car. He’s carrying the virus, so in some way I have to be carrying it, too.”
McDowell and Koepka are the third and fourth golfers to withdraw from PGA Tour events because of the virus. Champ withdrew on Tuesday and Nick Watney tested positive during last week’s RBC Heritage in Hilton Head and withdrew before the second round.