Golf: Calls to shut down Travelers after COVID-19 positives were silly says McIlroy

Jun 25, 2020; Cromwell, Connecticut, USA; Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on the 7th green during the first round of the Travelers Championship golf tournament at TPC River Highlands. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - World number one Rory McIlroy said on Thursday that it would have been silly to cancel this week’s Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut after Cameron Champ and two caddies tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the tournament.

American Champ withdrew from the event after testing positive at a pre-tournament screening while world number four Brooks Koepka and Graeme McDowell also withdrew as a precaution when their caddies tested positive.

McIlroy, who shot a seven-under 63 in the opening round, praised PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan for allowing the tournament to go ahead despite the positive tests.

“I thought Jay did a wonderful job yesterday, just relaying the information and where the PGA Tour stands and where we’re going forward,” Northern Irishman McIlroy told reporters.

“You hear one or two positive tests and people are panicking. I saw a couple of calls to shut the tournament down, which is silly from my point of view.

“There’s been almost 3,000 tests administered and the percentage of positive tests, it’s a quarter of a percent. I think, as a whole, it has been going really well. There’s a couple of loose ends that we needed to tidy up.”

The Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands is the third of five events on the PGA Tour’s revamped schedule.

It is closed to spectators in a bid to help stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Canadian Mackenzie Hughes fired an error free 10-under 60 to take an early first-round lead, three shots clear of McIlroy.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris