Golf

Nick Watney withdraws from RBC Heritage after testing positive for coronavirus

Former U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson delivered a putting master class to grab the early second-round clubhouse lead at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina on Friday.

Canada's Corey Conners in hunt following strong 2nd round

Nick Watney was forced to withdraw from the RBC Heritage on Friday after testing positive for coronavirus. (Charlie Neibergall/The Associated Press)

In the second week of returning to golf, Nick Watney became the first player to test positive for COVID-19.

Watney withdrew from the RBC Heritage on Friday, the PGA Tour said.

Watney missed the cut last week in the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial, the first tour event in three months after it shut down because of the pandemic.

He travelled privately to South Carolina and tested negative upon arrival at Harbour Town. Before he arrived Friday for his afternoon tee time, he said he had symptoms consistent with the virus, consulted a doctor and tested positive.

Watney did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. He played the opening round with Luke List and Vaughn Taylor.

WATCH | Tour reacts after Watney's positive test:

PGA Tour puts protocols into action after Nick Watney tests positive for COVID-19

Sports

12 months ago
2:07
The Golf Channel's Lisa Cornwell reports on the measures the PGA Tour is taking after golfer Nick Watney withdrew from the second round of the RBC Heritage after contracting COVID-19. 2:07

The tour had no positive tests of the 487 administered at Colonial, and none among the 98 players tested before taking the charter to Hilton Head or the 369 tests for those arriving on their own.

Players, caddies and essential personnel have mandatory tests.

"For the health and well-being of all associated with the tournament those within the community, the tour has begun implementing its response plan in consultation with medical experts, including working with those who may have had close contact with Nick," the tour said in a statement.

Conners moves up leaderboard

Meanwhile, Canada's Corey Conners was one stroke off the lead after firing an 8-under-par 63 on Friday.

Conners, from Listowel, Ont., sat tied for second with Bryson DeChambeau at 11 under at the halfway point of the PGA Tour event, one stroke back of Webb Simpson.

Conners didn't have a bogey in the second round, hitting 88.89 per cent of greens in regulation.

"Obviously, pretty awesome round," Conners said. "Stress free, hit a lot of really good shots. I felt great about my game. Rolled in a bunch of birdie putts to pay off with good shots. Really happy with the round."

Conners was in contention for much of last week's kickoff of the revamped PGA Tour schedule before fading into a tie for 19th at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

WATCH | Webb Simpson leads heading into weekend:

Webb Simpson heads into weekend with 1 shot lead at RBC Heritage

Sports

12 months ago
0:35
Webb Simpson leads Bryson DeChambeau and Canada's Corey Conners by one stroke after the second round of the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, S.C. 0:35

No fans have been on the course at the first two events of the revamped schedule.

"I took a lot of positives away from last week," Conners said. "There wasn't much rust there. I was feeling pretty good and ready to go back into competition. Yeah, just tried to keep my confidence going and play aggressively here.

"I haven't had a lot of success at this course before. It will be my first time playing the weekend. I think my experience over the last few years helped me. I'm definitely comfortable out here, and I like the golf course a lot."

Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., also is in contention. He is 8 under for the tournament after shooting a 3-under 68 on Friday.

Hughes has made the cut in just three of 13 events this season, though one weekend appearance finished with a second-place result at the Honda Classic in the final completed event before the tour went on pause.

"Today was quite nice. I felt like 68 was probably the highest I could have shot today," he said. "2020 has been a bit of a struggle for me so far. I've had a great result and a lot of other mixed results. So today was a nice round. Yeah, pretty low stress and nice spot for the weekend."

Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., is 5 under for the tournament.

Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont. (even par), Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., (1 over) and David Hearn of Brantford, Ont. (2 over) missed the cut.

With files from The Canadian Press

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