Ricky Elliott, Brooks Koepka's caddie, had initially tested negative for COVID-19 before a follow-up test

By Eric Todisco
June 24, 2020 01:51 PM
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Brooks Koepka
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Brooks Koepka has withdrawn from the Travelers Championship after his caddie, Ricky Elliott, tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The pro golfer, 30, told Golfweek that Elliott tested positive for the virus on Wednesday morning at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.

"I’m going to pull out to protect everybody else. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Koepka said. “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.”

Koepka, Elliott, and Koepka's coach Claude Harmon III all were initially tested for COVID-19 as a precaution after playing a practice round with Graeme McDowell, whose caddie, Ken Comboy, had tested positive.

“We all got tested Monday—myself, Claude and Ricky. We all came back negative,” Koepka said. “We had no symptoms. Nothing."

However, Elliott's additional test on Wednesday came out positive, which led Koepka to immediately withdraw from the Travelers Championship.

"Ricky has my full support in this. I feel bad for him,” Koepka said. “We have got to do everything we can to not spread it. We have to protect the field. That’s the reason we have these rules.”

Brooks Koepka
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Koepka said he and his team have been on strict lockdown during the first three events back on tour, staying together with a chef in rented homes and leaving only to go to the golf course or get tested.

The only occasion on which someone left from isolation was on Monday, June 15, when Elliott joined McDowell and Comboy at the funeral of a close friend in Orlando.

McDowell, 40, told Golfweek that Comboy now believes he may have been exposed to the virus during a commercial flight he took two days earlier on June 13 from Dallas to Orlando after the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Koepka said that he and his girlfriend Jena Sims, as well as his chef, are all being tested for coronavirus Wednesday at the golf course. Based on the results, he will decide whether to return home to Jupiter, Florida, or quarantine in Connecticut.

“I’d rather be safe than sorry,” he said.

Last week, Nick Watney became the first golfer on the PGA Tour to contract the coronavirus. He immediately withdrew from the RBC Heritage.

Watney had previously tested negative for COVID-19 when he first arrived in Hilton Head, South Carolina. He is now in self-isolation.

Nick Watney
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The PGA Tour has since put in place a health and safety plan that requires any player who tests positive to be "immediately isolated" for a minimum of 10 days "after the positive test and no subsequent symptoms or two negative test results at least 24 hours apart."

The tour said that 369 players, caddies and essential personnel were all tested on-site before the RBC Heritage began, and none tested positive.

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