Four players have withdrawn from the Valspar Championship due to positive COVID-19 tests, the PGA Tour announced.
Will Gordon and Brice Garnett registered positive tests on Monday, with Sepp Straka pulling out of the tournament for the same reason Tuesday morning, with Tyrrell Hatton joining their ranks on Tuesday afternoon. All four played in last week’s Zurich Classic in New Orleans. Due to the CDC guidelines, all must now enter self-isolation.
Garnett was coming off a strong performance at the Zurich Classic, teaming with Scott Stallings to finish T-11 at TPC Louisiana last week. The 37-year-old also posted top 10s at the Puerto Rico Open and Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. He entered the week 113th in the FedEx Cup. After his WD, Garnett posted an offer to fans on Twitter. “I don’t get to play this week,” Garnett wrote, “but I do have 2 Ticketmaster tickets available each day if anyone is in the Tampa area and wanting to watch some golf.”
Gordon, who earned full status on the tour this season through 11 starts via exemptions, qualifiers and special temporary membership last campaign, the WD continues a rough 2021. The Vanderbilt product has made 12 of 20 cuts but produced a lone top 25 finish. Ranking 152nd in strokes gained and 148th in the FedEx Cup, Gordon has some work to do over the second half of the season to keep his card for 2021.
Straka has been enjoying a quietly consistent campaign, making the cut in 15 of 20 starts this season. Ranking 88th in the FedEx Cup, Straka posted a T-29 finish last week with Josh Teeter at the Zurich. As for Hatton, the Englishman entered the week No.8 in the World Ranking and posted at T-8 at the Zurich with Danny Willett.
In a memo released to players last week, the PGA Tour is changing its testing policy, as well as updating its health and safety protocols, for those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. The biggest change involves no more routine testing for those who have been fully vaccinated, stated as 14 days since the last vaccine shot was administered. For those who are not vaccinated, testing will remain a condition of participation. However, on-site testing operations will discontinue at the end of June. Once those operations stop, non-vaccinated players will be required to show proof of a negative test at their own expense 72 hours before tournament arrival. This will be required not only for players but caddies, along with others inside the tour’s bubble.
Tim Wilkinson, J.J. Spaun, Nelson Ledesma, and Kiradech Aphibarnrat have been added to the field in light of the WDs. The Valspar Championship begins Thursday at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead course. Cancelled last year due to the pandemic, Paul Casey is the defending champ.