MIAMI (AFP) - Golfers based outside the United States will face a 14-day quarantine before they are able to compete on the US PGA Tour when the circuit resumes play next month, tour officials said on Wednesday (May 13).
Britain's Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood and Italy's Francesco Molinari are among around 25 golfers who would need to move quickly to arrive in time for the US PGA's planned June 11 return at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.
Despite moves by the tour to help players and caddies based outside US borders return for events, the 14-day quarantine will be in force and those coming over from Britain would face another two-week isolation when they return across the Atlantic Ocean.
"We're working with the federal government to facilitate the return of players and caddies who are currently residing outside of the United States, and we're optimistic that's going to occur," said Andy Levinson, tour vice-president of tournament administration.
"We're optimistic we'll be able to facilitate their return prior to our return to competition."
Helping players return doesn't mean the players could escape two weeks of quarantine, however, as a protective measure due to the coronavirus pandemic that shut down most sports, including the US PGA Tour, in March.
"That is currently in place, and it is likely to continue, so it's imperative that those constituents that we have that need to come back in the United States do so at least two weeks prior to our return to competition," Levinson said.
It's uncertain how many of the 25 players Levinson said are outside US borders would even want to return for events given the isolation required.
The tour outlined its coronavirus safety rules for its return, with at least the first four events to be played without spectators.
Coronavirus testing and daily temperature taking will be part of plan, devised in consultation with medical experts and government leaders in tournament host sites.
Nasal swab tests for the deadly virus would start when players and caddies perform a pre-travel screening test.
They would be tested again when they arrive at event lodging.
When they arrive at the course each day, players and caddies will face health questions and thermometer readings before they can enter.
If a player's temperature is above 100.4 deg F (38 deg C) on any day, he will be given a coronavirus test.
With up to two days needed for results, golfers will be able to only practice and play - observing social distancing protocols - while awaiting results. They would be banned from other course facilities.
Any player who tests positive for the virus must immediately quarantine for at least 10 days. If a player tests positive after making the 36-hole cut, he will be paid last-place prize money.
Medical privacy laws prohibit virus test results being made public, but players withdrawing for unknown reasons will come under scrutiny for such a situation.
And contact tracing will be used to try and contain any other possible positive tests.
"We're not going to play if we can't do it in a safe and healthy environment," PGA Tour chief of operations Tyler Dennis said.
The John Deere Classic at Sylvis, Illinois, on July 9-12 is the first possible event on a revamped US PGA schedule that could be open to fans.
NO HANDSHAKES ALLOWED
PGA staff, including rules and scoring officials, security, select clubhouse, tournament and volunteer staff, trainers and coaches will be permitted at the event. No family members will be allowed on site.
The tour will provide face masks and disinfectant wipes and cover test costs for players, caddies and essential staff.
Players will retrieve golf balls from holes and are urged to remove and replace their own clubs from the bag.
Caddies can rake bunkers and tend flagsticks but must use sanitary wipes on the equipment after doing so.
And there will be no handshakes after the round. Courses will be roped off for safety reasons even without spectators.
A player and caddie would share a cart back to the clubhouse if players are pulled off the course due to bad weather approaching.
A tour-hired charter flight will carry players and caddies between tournaments, but they have virus tests within 24 hours of departure. Only those who test negative can board the plane.