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Nick Watney, first Tour player to test positive for COVID-19, back at site of quarantine

The final time Nick Watney was on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, there have been way more questions than solutions.

In June, Watney turned the first PGA Tour player to test positive for COVID-19 following the circuit’s restart and whereas the world’s understanding of the coronavirus has advanced dramatically the final 10 months, the 39-year-old’s thoughts inevitably drifted back to these unsure days when he arrived to play this week’s RBC Heritage.

“Coming back to the island has brought back some memories, uncertain times at that point. Just in my head, mostly. It didn’t seem like there was a ton of data,” Watney informed

The 2020 Heritage was the second occasion on the Tour’s reimagined schedule and following a profitable testing week at the Charles Schwab Challenge there was a really actual sense of reduction at Harbour Town Golf Links. Following months of uncertainty, possibly the Tour might play by means of a pandemic.

Ian Poulter and Mark Hubbard took the early lead with 7-under 64s whereas Watney struggled to a 74 that left him tied for 134th out of 151 gamers. The Tour’s official announcement that Watney had examined positive stated he’d “indicated he had symptoms consistent with the illness.” But Watney didn’t have any actual signs related to COVID-19.

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“I debated even getting tested because I felt fine. The data on my Whoop [fitness strap] said my respiratory rate was high and that was unique to COVID,” he stated. “I didn’t have any outward symptoms.”

Although the Tour’s COVID-19 protocols have advanced since these first few occasions, the Tour’s physician informed Watney he might go heat up for the second spherical whereas they waited for his test outcomes. He hung out together with his caddie, Tony Navarro, hit balls on the Harbour Town vary, which is among the many smallest on Tour, and even had a quick dialog with Rory McIlroy on the follow placing inexperienced.

Watney’s positive test was a shock. He’d adopted all of the protocols, worn his masks when he wasn’t taking part in and practising and adhered to the circuit’s safer-at-home guidelines.

All whole, Watney spent 12 days in quarantine in a small rental tucked on the back facet of Hilton Head Island. He was alone together with his ideas and, like everybody else, so many questions.

“I was trying to follow all of the protocols and do the right thing. It was confusing and scary at the same time. All those things have come up again,” Watney stated of his 12 days in isolation.

Watney’s case was delicate and he additionally had the help of the Tour, which supplied him with a stipend for his time in quarantine. The larger concern at the time was how his positive test may influence others. Would Navarro want to be quarantined? Who could be pulled into the contact tracing that adopted the first positive test? And, most regarding, what if he handed the virus alongside to somebody?

Watney texted McIlroy Friday afternoon to apologize for placing him at threat, and Luke List and Vaughn Taylor, who had been paired with Watney for Round 1, and their caddies had been retested for COVID-19.

“I was super worried about [infecting others],” Watney stated. “The driving range is small and I was around this guy or that guy. It’s terrible to think about the distanced interactions you did have. It was a relief no one was infected by me.”

For 12 days Watney was left alone together with his personal ideas and he spent a very good deal of time researching the coronavirus and making an attempt to study as a lot as he might. He realized that “viral waste” can proceed to be detected regardless that the virus is useless.

This week, a couple of gamers have requested Watney about final 12 months’s Heritage and being back on the island has stirred so much recollections from his time within the small rental.

“I haven’t been by there yet. I was thinking about driving past it to see if they bulldozed it or not,” he laughed. “It was like Groundhog Day. Wake up, pace around, talk on the phone.”

Being back at the Heritage has additionally given Watney a novel perspective on how far the world has are available in 10 months. He’s acquired the first of his two vaccinations and is assured the Tour is inching nearer to regular.

“With this much data and vaccines, my comfort level is slightly higher. The vaccines are easing people’s minds,” he stated. “It seems like the world is heading in the right direction.”

Compared to the final time Watney was on Hilton Head Island there are way more solutions and a few much-needed readability.

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