The Open Championship field took two hits this weekend as Masters champions Hideki Matsuyama and Bubba Watson withdrew ahead of the July 15 start at Royal St. George.
Matsuyama, who tested positive for COVID-19 after the first round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic on July 2, won’t travel due to United Kingdom health protocols.
The reigning Masters champ has remained quarantined since and hasn’t shown symptoms, but continues to test positive on PCR tests.
“I’m feeling fine but haven’t been able to practice in preparation for The Open,” said Matsuyama in a statement. “Combining that with the difficult travel to the UK, my team and I have decided it’s best to withdraw to ensure everyone’s safety.”
Matsuyama will focus on the Tokyo Olympics, which begins its golf competition on July 29.
Watson, a two-time Masters winner, withdrew after having direct contact with someone who tested positive.
“While I am vaccinated and have passed the required pre-travel Covid test, not enough time has passed for me to comfortably join the charter flight and risk exposure to the other players and personnel on board,” explained Watson.
Please read… pic.twitter.com/ryN6tDL2TU
— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) July 11, 2021
They’ll be replaced in the field with Americans Harold Varner III and Brendan Steele. Two more Americans, John Catlin and Adam Long, are now the first and second alternates.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)