Bubba Watson Withdraws from 2021 British Open After Exposure to Someone with COVID-19

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 11, 2021

DETROIT, MI - JULY 03: PGA golfer Bubba Watson hits his tee shot on the 9th hole on July 3, 2021 during the Rocket Mortgage Classic at the Detroit Golf Club in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bubba Watson announced Sunday that he will not play in the Open Championship next week after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

Watson explained the decision further in a statement on Twitter:

bubba watson @bubbawatson

Please read… <a href="https://t.co/ryN6tDL2TU">pic.twitter.com/ryN6tDL2TU</a>

The 42-year-old Watson is the latest high-profile player to pull out of the British Open. Hideki Matsuyama, the 2021 Masters champion, withdrew Saturday because of a recent COVID-19 diagnosis.

Matthew Wolff, Danny Lee and K.H. Lee have also pulled out of the tournament.

ESPN's Bob Harig obtained a copy of the "Player Information Update" sent to golfers competing in the Open Championship by R&A CEO Martin Slumbers two weeks ago.

Harig noted that players will face far stricter COVID-19 protocols at the Open Championship than they have at recent tournaments in the United States.

All players will be tested for COVID-19 upon arriving for the tournament regardless of their vaccination status, and they aren't allowed to go to restaurants, pubs or grocery stores once there.

Additionally, any player deemed to have come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 can be disqualified from the tournament regardless of whether they test positive themselves.

Watson is a two-time Masters champion, and he has also posted top-five finishes at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

The British Open has been a challenge for him over the years, though, with a career-best finish of tied for 23rd in 2012. Of the 11 times Watson has played in the Open Championship, he has missed the cut on five occasions.

Watson has been playing well of late, though, finishing 19th at the Travelers Championship last month and sixth at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week.

The 2021 Open Championship will emanate from Royal St. George's Golf Club in Sandwich, England, next week.

It will mark the first time the Open Championship has been held since 2019, as last year's tourney was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.