By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 21/06/20 12:04am
Sergio Garcia expressed his anguish at Nick Watney testing positive for coronavirus and revealed the pair flew to the RBC Heritage together on Garcia’s private jet.
Watney hitched a ride from Texas to South Carolina and both players tested negative for Covid-19 when they arrived at Hilton Head Island on Tuesday.
So it was a huge surprise to Garcia that the American then became the first player on the PGA Tour to test positive for coronavirus early on Friday morning and must now stay in the area to self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days.
The former Masters champion confirmed he was one of the 11 people who “may have had close contact” with Watney and were tested on Friday, and Garcia experienced an anxious wait to find out his results.
But Garcia, who is just two shots off the lead going into the final round after back-to-back 65s, was arguably a little insensitive with his choice of words as he reflected on the events of Friday.
McIlroy: I talked with Watney before positive test
“Nick texted me actually because we had a chat on the putting green before I went out to play”
“My first reaction was I was surprised,” Garcia said. “I felt terrible for Nick because he’s probably one of the nicest guys on Tour. Unfortunately, it had to happen to him. So there’s a lot of other people that probably deserved it a lot more than him, and he’s the one that got it.
“I was a little bit afraid because I gave him a ride on Tuesday, and when we landed on Tuesday, we got tested. We were both negative, so it was all good. Then I was surprised to hear that he tested positive three days later. Obviously, I got my test done yesterday, and I was negative.
“But it was about four-and-a-half hours of waiting, very anxiously, hoping that it was negative because, after missing the cut last week by one and this week finally playing nicely in the second round and being in the middle of the pack, if I would have given positive, then I wouldn’t be able to play on the weekend and I would have been very disappointed.
“Nick is unbelievable. He’s a good friend and he was very worried about me. He sent me several texts, I’ve talked to him, and he must have said sorry to me probably 25 times. I told him that it’s all good, whatever it is, it is. Fortunately for me, it was fine. Hopefully, his is not bad, and we can have him back as soon as possible.
“It could be one of those false positive ones because I talked to him this morning, and he’s been telling me he’s feeling fine. He’s got no fever, he’s got no cough. So I’m hoping that he gets tested again, and it’s maybe a false positive. That would be nice because he doesn’t deserve it.”
Rory McIlroy said earlier that Watney raised concerns with medical staff when he checked his WHOOP band, a fitness tracking device that is worn on the bicep or the wrist, and noticed his respiratory rate was higher than usual.
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“If he would have not had that WHOOP, he would have played, and nobody would have noticed,” Garcia added. “Nobody would have known, but it shows the kind of person he is.
“He saw that something was a little bit off, he talked to the doctor, and a lot of other people probably would have just kind of gone on without even thinking about it, but he was worried about not only himself, but all of us, and he got out and tested. That shows a lot to me from him.
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“I feel terrible about it, but unfortunately, it’s the way it is, and we all knew coming out here and playing that there’s a possibility of catching it some way. We’re hoping that no one gets it, but I’m sure that, unfortunately, he won’t be the first and he won’t be the last because there’s a lot of things that can happen.
“There’s so many unknowns about this virus, we think we know a lot about it, but there’s a lot of things we don’t know.”