"How the PGA Tour navigated its toughest week yet"
Nick Pietruszkiewicz of ESPN.com was one of the select media members on site at the Travelers Championship and summed up the PGA Tour’s third week back:
• There were positive tests, of players and caddies.
• There was the sudden arrival of the PGA Tour commissioner and the possibility of another shutdown.
• There was one major champion leaving and one playing a round all by himself.
So yes, the stark reality of all this was evident all across the property, every day of the week.
He goes on to detail the whirlwind events and while drawing no conclusions, the new normal outlined in the story sounds like something that will be tough to sustain. And this was all before yet another positive test was announced (more later).
But if things continue at this pace of positive tests, contact trace-based WD’s and daily guideline changes and is juxtaposed against nationwide outbreaks, golf’s importance may pale.
The good news?
A tournament concluded with Dustin Johnson winning in an entertaining final round, albeit with a weather delay that was forecast. Tee times were, once again, inexplicably not moved up for both safety and avoidance-delay reasons.
Masks were seen on players in post-round interviews, on one caddie in the network TV window (for Brendon Todd) and on some members of the PGA Tour rules staff when interacting with players. The putting green was no longer a crowded gathering place.
The CBS crew has done a remarkable job presenting the events with limited crews and major constraints.
The bad news?
Testing reliability by Sanford Health is now in question with Cameron Champ looking like a false-positive situation. Earlier in the week, Brooks Koepka caddy Ricky Elliott reported negative tests after his positive that trimmed the world no. 2 and his brother from the Travelers field.
CBS has done a remarkable job with a small crew—beancounters don’t event think this is sustainable.
And somehow, the virus has become an opportunity for the PGA Tour to move Whoop product.
Here is the statement on Dylan Fritelli’s positive test, with the quote as boilerplate as it gets, particularly if you’ve ever heard the charismatic South African speak.
PGA TOUR statement on Dylan Frittelli
As part of the PGA TOUR’s pre-charter testing process, TOUR player Dylan Frittelli tested positive for COVID-19. Frittelli, who missed the cut at the Travelers Championship, has been withdrawn from next week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic field. He will have the PGA TOUR’s full support throughout his self-isolation period under CDC guidelines.
The PGA TOUR has implemented its response plan in consultation with medical experts, including working with those who may have had close contact with Frittelli. After conducting necessary contact tracing, the TOUR’s medical advisors are not recommending any additional testing at this time.
“I am experiencing no issues and feel great physically and was surprised and disappointed to learn of the positive test today,” said Frittelli. “I’m thankful for the WHOOP strap notification of a minor increase [0.3] in my respiratory rate overnight. However, I’m most thankful for the TOUR’s assistance, procedures and protocols, which I will continue to follow during my self-isolation, so as to keep everyone safe. I look forward to getting back on TOUR once it’s safe to do so.”
Frittelli is the fourth PGA TOUR player to test positive for Coronavirus since the PGA TOUR’s Return to Golf on June 11: Nick Watney at last week’s RBC Heritage; Cameron Champ and Denny McCarthy earlier this week.
The Whoop hard sell is a bizarre Twist in these already strange times. One player is already refuting the readings and selling of them by the Tour:
@PGATOURComms Let’s make sure we are not sounding incorrect alarms here or misrepresenting data. An increase in respiratory rate of .3 is not cause for any concern or even acknowledgment. Don’t freak out ever person you just handed a @whoop to.— Blayne Barber (@BlayneBarberAU) June 29, 2020
The PGA Tour next lands in Detroit this week for the Rocket Mortgage Classic.