Rory McIlroy not one of the 11 people tested after Nick Watney contracted Covid-19

June 20, 2020

Rory McIlroy has revealed he was not one of the 11 people tested for coronavirus on Friday despite his encounter with Nick Watney at the RBC Heritage.

McIlroy continued his spirited recovery from his opening 72 at Harbour Town as he followed Friday's 65 with a six-birdie 66 early on Saturday, lifting him to 10 under par and keeping him within striking distance of the lead.

The world No 1 admitted after Friday's round that he had chatted to Watney on the practice putting green before the American was withdrawn from the tournament and sent into self-isolation after his Covid-19 test came back positive.

The PGA Tour confirmed they tested 11 people who "may have had close contact" with Watney, but McIlroy was not among them and insisted he maintained a safe distance during their conversation.

Asked if he had a test, McIlroy said: "No, I didn't. I didn't feel like I was in close enough proximity, and I wasn't feeling any symptoms. I feel totally fine. No, I saw him on the putting green, and we kept our distance, and that was it."

The world No 1 also dismissed the possibility of anyone attempting to play on while keeping quiet about feeling symptoms consistent with coronavirus, which rule them out of competition for at least a fortnight.

"I hope not because it's not about yourself," he added. "Most people that get it that are healthy are going to recover from it and be okay, but it's the people that you can infect. That's the big risk. I'd like not to think that people, if they were symptomatic, that they wouldn't report.

"We're still in the middle of a pandemic. I think we've done really well to start golf again and get back up and play golf tournaments. I don't think anyone was blind to the fact that someone could catch the virus, and it's a shame that Nick did.

"But as I said last night, it's one case, and as long as it's contained to that and we move forward, we can keep playing."

McIlroy bogeyed three of his first nine holes on Thursday, but he has dropped only one shot since while making 14 birdies, and he attributed his improvement to better familiarity with the layout - particularly off the tees.

"I think being more comfortable with my lines off tees and the sort of shots that I'm trying to hit off the tees," he said. "I think on Thursday there was a few tee shots where I was caught in two minds about what I wanted to do, where I've been a little more decisive and a little more committed off the tee the last two days.

"And I've been able to hit the ball on the fairway much more. From there, whatever, I'm 11 under par the last two days by doing that. I need to try to keep doing that, same game plan.

"My irons have been feeling pretty good, my wedges have felt pretty good, so if I just keep hitting it in the fairways, I'll be able to give myself birdie chances from there."

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