Lee Westwood rules out late dash to US despite quarantine being lifted

Englishman ‘feels out of my comfort zone’ in bubble environment
Lee Westwood pictured during today's final round of the Betfred British Masters at Close House, near Newcastle. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty ImagesLee Westwood pictured during today's final round of the Betfred British Masters at Close House, near Newcastle. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Lee Westwood pictured during today's final round of the Betfred British Masters at Close House, near Newcastle. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Lee Westwood will not be taking advantage of sports stars no longer having to quarantine in the US to make a late dash across the Atlantic for next week's WGC in Memphis and the US PGA Championship in San Francisco the following week.

A two-week quarantine that the likes of Tommy Fleetwood and Bob MacIntyre faced after they headed to the States recently in preparation for upcoming events has now been lifted by the US Government.Travel restrictions for players, caddies and "essential personnel" entering the US to compete on the PGA Tour are no longer in place, though they have to go straight to an event, with players having been informed of the change late last night via email.

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However, former world No 1 Westwood said he was not ready to jump on a plane to play in either of those big tournaments due to the fact that, even in the safe environment in place for the European Tour's full return this week with the Betfred British Masters, he is "feeling out of my comfort zone" at the moment.

Speaking after finishing his last round at Close House, near Newcastle, the tournament host, was asked if he planned to head to the US as his name is still in the field for the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational starting on Thursday.

"No," he replied. "I know they’ve dropped the two-week quarantine now, but I still don’t feel comfortable and I don’t feel like it is right to jump on a plane for 12 hours. I’ve felt like out of my comfort zone this week, so, if I got to Memphis, I would feel uncomfortable playing golf tournaments at the moment.

“I’m 28 years of playing on Tour and this is a shock to the system, isn’t it? Whenever I come out and play the tournaments now it is almost about seeing my mates and the sociable element of it all and you’re not getting that at the moment.

"You finish playing golf and go to the range. I’ve never seen so many players on the range at 8 o’clock at night trying to avoid their hotel rooms. There is a lot of think about where to play coming up, really."

Westwood, the world No 34, added of the bio-bubble set up in place for the six events on a new UK Swing: “It’s just not the life I’m used to. I go out on the golf course and I am struggling for motivation a little bit. There is a lot more to consider.

"The two America tournaments, next week and the following week, I’m still more concerned that America doesn’t take it as seriously as the rest of the world. It still seems to be one of the hot spots for outbreaks.

"I can control me not getting the virus and take all the measures I can, but somebody might pass it on. I don’t really want to get ill with it and I’m slightly asthmatic. If I tested in Memphis I would have to stay there for two weeks and I’m not sure about insurance policies etc.

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"Right now there are too many what ifs. If you take all them into consideration, there is something wrong. So probably Hanbury Manor will be the next one for me."

The European Tour has spent £2 million-plus on a medical health strategy to get the circuit up and running after a four-month shutdown due to the coronavirus, with Westwood describing the set up as "military style" earlier in the week.

“You can see someone like 18, 19, 20 coming out to the events and brilliant, it wouldn’t be such a shock to the system, but I’m too old in the tooth for that now," he continued. "I’ve spoken to a few people – playing with Slats (Lee Slattery) today, he said this is really weird this. So he is in the same situation.

"But I feel like I should play in a few of the UK Swing events to support the European Tour because they have done such an unbelievable job of putting on these tournaments.

"The European Tour and Close House have done an amazing job. When we turned up on Monday, I was surprised how thorough everything was.

"I knew it was going to be sort of lockdown, but the testing protocols we went through have proven a success as I don't think anyone has tested positive and hopefully that will carry on for the next few weeks."

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