Matt Wallace has defended his decision to continue playing in the Travelers Championship following his playing partners’ withdrawal over coronavirus concerns.
Wallace pegged it up alone in the second round at TPC River Highlands after Denny McCarthy tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday morning.
The third member of their group, Bud Cauley, tested negative but had been experiencing some symptoms consistent with the disease. As a result, he joined McCarthy in withdrawing.
Wallace and his caddie were also re-tested following McCarthy’s news and, when both came back negative, the Englishman decided to continue in the tournament.
That prompted some people to question the 30-year-old’s judgement, particularly in view of other tournament withdrawals earlier in the week.
Brooks Koepka and his brother Chase withdrew on Wednesday after Brooks’ caddie Ricky Elliott tested positive for the disease. The Koepka siblings were re-tested following Elliott’s diagnosis and, despite both coming back negative, they pulled out in order to protect the field. Webb Simpson, the winner of last week’s RBC Heritage, did something similar.
Speaking to his reporters after his second round, Wallace explained why he played on.
“I'm playing with a chance to change my career if I win, so why wouldn't I play?” said the world No.47. “It's black and white for me. I tested negative and I can go play.
“I stayed well clear of [McCarthy and Cauley] yesterday, no fist bumps, none of that. I've done everything at night that I have done the last three weeks while testing negative. I just got some food, stayed in the hotel room, came up here, got tested, tested negative. [Caddie] Dave tested negative, we're all clean, we went out and played. That's pretty much it for me.”
He added: “I don't think I should be in any way a negative here. I don't think I should be put in that spotlight at all. I've done everything else that any other player has done and I've tested negative. I'm in the same boat that they are. It's just the fact that the player partner that I had yesterday felt ill last night with whatever they did from leaving us on the golf course because I'm guessing they tested negative at the start of the week to now, where I'm still negative, as well.”
Wallace expanded on his thoughts in an Instagram video post later on…
Away from the COVID-19 drama, Wallace carded a two-over 72 to miss the cut. His frustration was heightened by the PGA Tour’s decision to send him out on his own – a single surrounded by threeballs – following his playing partners’ withdrawals.
He added: “Would DJ play on his own? Would Rory play on his own? I probably doubt it, so they could have dropped one of the players back from in front or maybe from behind to go ahead and play with me.
"I just don't think it was a great move to leave someone out on their own in the middle of the pack."