The strict guidelines were said to be the talk of the US Open last week

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Strict UK Covid Protocols Causing Open Championship Headaches For Players

A ‘Player Information Update’ from the R&A has emphasised the Covid-19 protocols players will have to abide by during the Open Championship – and they will be causing headaches for players coming over from the US.

The PGA Tour has taken a more relaxed approach to its Covid-19 guidelines and players are set for a much stricter operation when they come over for the Open next month.

During the week, players and teams must stay in official tournament ‘bubble’ hotels or rent private accommodation with a maximum of four people, including the player, their caddie and two team members.

Wives, girlfriends and family members can attend if they’re part of the team of four but must either already be in the UK or have completed the 10-day quarantine.

Crucially, players, caddies and team members will not have to quarantine but family members do have to, which is currently a 10-day quarantine reduced to 5-days if a negative test is produced.

A number of Americans will have likely booked houses to share for the tournament but plans will have to change.

Related: Open Championship to allow 32,000 fans per day

“Please be aware that the UK has strict contact tracing laws and our ability to stage the Championship relies on persons not creating contacts other than their own player support team group,” the player update said, obtained by ESPN.

“All accredited players, caddies and player support team members including family members will be subject to strict ‘inner bubble’ restrictions for the duration of their time at the Championship and must not mix with members of the general public in restaurants, supermarkets or other public areas.

“No one outside the accommodation buddy group is permitted to visit others in self-catering/private accommodation. This would be seen as a breach of the COVID-19 protocols and could lead to withdrawal from the Championship.”

Players are also at the risk of being withdrawn from the tournament if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, whereas on the PGA Tour the player would be allowed to play if they provided a negative test.

The guidelines sound very similar to those of the European Tour but are much more stringent that what the PGA Tour players are now used to.

Speaking to golfweek.com, an anonymous player said that they have thought about skipping the tournament entirely.

“I’m going to go because it’s the British Open. But I certainly thought about not going,” they said.

“I just can’t believe with the numerous examples of successfully run, safely held tournaments and majors here that they can’t figure out a better situation.

“If someone on your plane tests positive on the way to the British and is sitting anywhere close to you, you’re out, no questions asked, no matter if you’re vaccinated.

“It’s aggravating that they deem the tournament safe enough for 32,000 fans a day to attend but won’t let a player’s wife or children travel and watch the tournament, nor will they even let players visit a restaurant without threat of disqualification.”

Related: The 1921 Open: The quest for the USA’s first Claret Jug

Renowned coach Pete Cowen, who linked up with Rory McIlroy earlier this year, did not hold back with his words when speaking to The Telegraph.

The Yorkshireman was planning to stay in an RV on-site along with some caddies, although he will now be booking into an official ‘bubble’ hotel or separate accommodation.

“I imagine the R&A’s inbox will soon be filling up and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of the American players in particular don’t bother coming over,” he told The Telegraph.

“They will just see it as hassle and will be baffled why it’s so different to the bubble they are used to on the PGA Tour, which has, by and large, worked very well.

“It was the talk of the range last week at the US Open, with loads asking ‘how strict will it be?’ Even the Brits among us didn’t think it would be this strict.

“There are going to be 32,000 fans allowed in every day and they’re saying we can’t stay in anything other than the dedicated hotels — most of which are already sold out — because we’d be mixing with the public.

“And we can’t stay together, like we have on the PGA Tour for the last year.

“We have all been vaccinated and will have been tested before we are allowed in. This ‘bubble’ we have created between ourselves has produced no problems at all.

“It makes no sense at all when there will be 60,000 at Wembley, 140,000 at Silverstone and all those at Wimbledon on the weekend before — sitting next to each other.”

The Open Championship takes place from 15-18th July, with the tournament returning for the first time in two years after being cancelled in 2020.