Masters champ Hideki Matsuyama tests positive for COVID-19; British Open now in doubt

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DETROIT – Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama has withdrawn from the Rocket Mortgage Classic prior to the second round after testing positive for COVID-19.

“It’s disappointing to receive this news and have to withdraw from the Rocket Mortgage Classic,” said Matsuyama in a press release. “I will take all the necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of all others. I appreciate and thank everyone for their concern in advance. I look forward to a full recovery and returning to competition as soon as possible.”

But will that be soon enough to play in the British Open, which is scheduled to begin in less than two weeks at Royal St George’s in England. The R&A recently informed contestants of its stiff requirements, including a five-day quarantine, when entering the country. Matsuyama’s ability to compete in the final major of 2021 is in serious doubt.

Jon Rahm, who won the U.S. Open last month, experienced a similar dilemma when he had to withdraw from the Memorial after testing positive for COVID. At the time, he had a six-stroke lead. But Rahm tested negative in time to be cleared to play at Torrey Pines, and also benefited from the fact he didn’t have to travel overseas.

Matsuyama took last week off and had last competed at the U.S. Open, where he finished T-26. He shot a 2-under-par 70 on Thursday at Detroit Golf Club. Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, who played with Matsuyama in the first round, will play as a twosome on Friday. Neither Mickelson nor Fowler are required to do contract tracing.

The PGA Tour said in a statement that Matsuyama will have its full support throughout his self-isolation under CDC guidelines.