Reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama has been disqualified from the Rocket Mortgage Classic after testing positive for COVID-19 on Friday morning.
The news puts the Japanese golf star’s status for the British Open Championship in doubt.
“It’s disappointing to receive this news and have to withdraw from the Rocket Mortgage Classic,” said Matsuyama in a statement released by the PGA Tour.
“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.”
PGA TOUR Statement on Hideki Matsuyama pic.twitter.com/pqAjgylqZ5
— PGA TOUR Communications (@PGATOURComms) July 2, 2021
The R&A protocols put in place for The Open are strict and have been strongly criticized by players.
Under normal PGA Tour guidelines, Matsuyama would have been able to return to competition by the end of next week if his COVID was asymptomatic, or Monday July 12 if he were really sick. But with travel and the stricter protocols in place – including a player requiring a negative test 72 hours prior to arriving in the UK, Matsuyama’s status is not looking good.
Additionally, the R & A will be enforcing strict tracing so those in contact with anyone who is learned to have tested positive for COVID could be removed from the tournament immediately.
Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler were paired with Matsuyama in the opening round. They played as a twosome on Friday.