Brooks Koepka withdraws from 2020 Travelers Championship after caddie tests positive for COVID-19

Brooks Koepka reacts after his birdie on the first hole during the fourth round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 18, 2017, at Erin Hills in Erin, Wis. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

COVID-19 is not going anywhere, and the PGA Tour has experienced that reality over the last week. Brooks Koepka, the No. 4 player in the world, withdrew from the 2020 Travelers Championship on Wednesday after his caddie, Ricky Elliott, tested positive for the coronavirus.

He is the third withdrawal from this event following Cameron Champ and Graeme McDowell. Champ withdrew after testing positive, while McDowell did so because caddie Ken Comboy received a positive test. McDowell never arrived on site at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut.

“I’m going to pull out to protect everybody else. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Koepka told Golfweek, which reported his withdrawal. “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.”

Interestingly, Elliott reportedly spent time with McDowell and Comboy recently, and Koepka played a practice round with McDowell earlier this week, according to Golfweek. Koepka’s test came back negative Wednesday, but Elliott’s was positive.

It’s not difficult to connect the dots here and see how easy it is for COVID-19 to infiltrate and then spread within the PGA Tour or any sport. When players, caddies and essential personnel are traveling from city to city — sometimes together but sometimes separately — it can become a petri dish for the virus to manifest itself.

The PGA Tour will continue to fight to isolate the incidents, but after none the first week at the Charles Schwab Challenge, one last week at the RBC Heritage and now three separate positive tests this week before the Travelers Championship has even started, the trend line does not engender confidence about what the future holds.

Koepka had his first top-10 finish last week at the RBC Heritage since the 2019 Tour Championship.

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