British caddies facing extended quarantine periods around PGA Tour restart

Harry Diamond, Rory McIlroy’s caddie, is just one of several British bagmen resigned to spending up to six of the next nine weeks in quarantine in order to appear at the PGA Tour’s forthcoming restart. 

Diamond arrived in Florida at the weekend to start to fulfil the segregated fortnight required to make him eligible to work for the world No 1 at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas, the first event back after a three-month hiatus on June 11. 

McIlroy is also due to play at the following RBC Heritage in South Carolina and the Travelers Championship in Connecticut. Diamond will then travel back to Belfast to be with wife Claire and their baby daughter and under UK rules will have to fulfil another two weeks locked away. 

After that, Diamond might travel immediately back to the States to undertake yet another fortnight’s seclusion ahead of the WGC tournament in Memphis and then the USPGA in San Francisco, before returning to the UK for what would be another two weeks of quarantine.

At least Diamond is holed-up in some comfort. “We have a guest house here [in Jupiter] that Harry can quarantine in and make sure he does all the necessary things,” McIlroy told BBC Sport. “The only tough thing is he has to come over and quarantine here for two weeks and then it looks like he will have to quarantine for two weeks on the other side as well. So for a three-tournament stretch it is actually seven for him, but hopefully some of those rules could be lifted between now and then.”

Sam Haywood is another praying that the regulations will be eased. Danny Willett’s right-hand man checked into an Orlando hotel on Sunday. 

“I’ve got my X-Box and Fifa so I’ll be ok,” Haywood said. “I am going to stay here for a week until I’ve done two negative [Covid-19] tests and then I’ll stay with Danny [at his Orlando residence]. I didn’t want to catch something flying over and pass it on to Danny and his family. It’ll be three weeks playing with Danny and then two weeks in quarantine back in the UK and then go straight to Memphis and… well, hopefully, the rules will be changed in that time.”

Jonny Bell, who caddies for Tom Lewis, and Dave McNeilly, who has been rehired by Matt Wallace, are in the same boat, but Billy Foster has elected against it. With Matt Fitzpatrick’s blessing, the 56-year-old will remain in England with a view to going over in late July. Fitzpatrick, himself, is quarantining in West Palm Beach, having flown over on Saturday, hours after receiving a visa and the results of his negative test.

Meanwhile, McIlroy has reiterated his belief that the Ryder Cup will not be played behind closed doors in September but will instead be postponed a year. “The players are the ones that make the Ryder Cup and if they are not on board with it and don’t want to play then there is no Ryder Cup,” McIlroy said. “I see it being pushed back until 2021 and, honestly, I think that will be the right call.”

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