A series of strict COVID protocols has angered some players on the PGA Tour leading up to next month’s Open Championship, with some considering a boycott of the prestigious event and others simply upset by the rules.
The 149th Open is slated to be held at Royal St George’s from July 15, but the R&A has sent players a long list of specific warrants that will alter the hosting plans many had arranged.
A player, who spoke with Golf week on condition of anonymity, said he strongly plans to skip the major, which was canceled in 2020. Shane Lowry has the Claret Jug for 22 months now after winning his only major at Royal Portrush in Ireland in 2019.
“I’m going to go because it’s the British Open. But I certainly thought not to go. I just can’t believe, with the many examples of tournaments and major tournaments being successfully and safely held here, that they can’t find a better situation, ”said the player.
“If someone on your plane tests British Way positive and is sitting anywhere near you, you don’t ask a question, no matter if you are vaccinated. It’s aggravating that they deem the tournament safe enough for 32,000 fans to attend per day, but won’t let a player’s wife, kids travel and watch the tournament, and they won’t even let players visit. a restaurant without threat of disqualification.
According to the instructions Golf week obtained that was sent to players, caddies and coaches by the R&A, those from different teams of players will not be allowed to stay together, making it difficult for many who travel to support players.
“Up to four people [regulation] within a private rental accommodation must be included in the player support group… For example, multiple players or multiple caddies are not allowed to share private accommodation, ”the email from R&A states. “We recognize that it is difficult for many who shared during the championship, but the government’s strict contact tracing requirements mean that will not be possible in 2021.
“No one other than the“ buddies ”accommodation group is allowed to visit other independent private accommodation. This would constitute a violation of Covid-19 protocols and could result in withdrawal from the Championship. “
The potential of being ousted from the tournament angering players, especially in light of the relaxed restrictions on customers. The R&A recently announced that up to 32,000 fans will be able to attend Royal St George’s daily, which is 80% of the typical 40,000 spectators allowed at the venue.
“They care more about the income of the fans who buy the beers than the actual people participating in the tournament,” said the player who spoke with Golf week. “Any fan can go to a grocery store or a restaurant and we can’t. Does this make sense? And I am vaccinated. How can this make sense? “
Coach Pete Cowen, who works with Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka and others, said he would be forced to find new accommodation.
“I had to stay with a few of the caddies in a huge motorhome right next to the training field,” he told Telegraph Sport in an article published in the Guardian. “It wasn’t cheap, but it seemed the wisest option in today’s climate. But we just found out that we are not allowed to stay together because it violates government protocols. “
Cowen echoed comments from the player who spoke with Golf week.
“There will be 32,000 licensed fans every day and they say we can’t stay at anything other than the dedicated hotels – most of which are already full – because we would mingle with the public,” Cowen mentioned. “And we can’t stay together like we did on the PGA Tour last year. We have all been vaccinated and will have been tested before we are allowed in. This “bubble” that we created between us did not cause any problem.
“It doesn’t make sense when there are 60,000 at Wembley, 140,000 at Silverstone (race track) and all those at Wimbledon the previous weekend – sitting next to each other. Guess I should. be grateful to go, because initially the wording of the rule made me believe that instructors would be banned.