Two-time former Masters champion Bubba Watson has withdrawn from the Open Championship.

Watson, who finished sixth last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, said he had come into contact with somebody who has been confirmed as having the COVID-19 virus.

The 42-year-old must therefore stay at home in the United States rather than travel to England for the major, which begins at Royal St George's in Kent on Thursday.

Watson posted a statement to his social media accounts that read: "I am disappointed to announce I will not compete at the Open Championship next week due to having direct exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

"While I am vaccinated and have passed the required pre-travel COVID test, not enough time has passed for me to comfortably join the charter flight and risk exposure to the other players and personnel on board."

He added: "Like many of you, I look forward to watching the Open Championship on TV. Since I will be watching from the comfort of my couch I would not mind seeing the field have to deal with a little rain and strong winds!

"Best of luck to all the players. I look forward to returning to the Open Championship next year."

Watson won the Masters in 2012 and 2014 but has often struggled at The Open, which is the only one of the four majors at which he has failed to register a top-five finish. Indeed, his best performance has been a tie for 23rd place at the 2012 tournament.

Harris English outlasted Kramer Hickok in a marathon play-off to claim the Travelers Championship on Sunday.

English birdied the eighth play-off hole in a marathon battle against fellow American Kramer at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.

The eight-hole play-off is tied for second longest in PGA Tour history (2012 Mayakoba Golf Classic, 1983 Phoenix Open, 1981 Quad Cities Open, 1978 Greater Milwaukee Open and 1965 Azalea Open Invitational) – only three holes shy of the record – 11 at 1949 Motor City Open.

English's birdie putt at the eighth extra hole delivered a fourth career Tour title and second of the season after he claimed the Tournament of Champions via sudden death.

A play-off was needed at the Travelers Championship after English and Hickok finished 13 under through 72 regulation holes.

English catapulted himself to the top of the leaderboard with a five-under-par 65 as Hickok's final-round 67 saw him settled for a share of the lead.

March Leishman – the 2012 champion – used a bogey-free six-under-par 64 to earn outright third position, a shot behind English and Hickok, having initially been tied for first in the fourth round.

A stroke further back was Abraham Ancer (65) as four-time major winner Brooks Koepka (65) headlined a group of five players tied for fifth at 10 under.

Former world number one Jason Day was unable to maintain his title charge – an even-par 70 seeing the Australian star fall into a share of 10th spot at nine under.

Bryson DeChambeau also lost ground on the final day following a 70, which left the former U.S. Open champion seven under at the end of the tournament, alongside overnight leader Bubba Watson (73).

Defending champion Dustin Johnson's (71) bid for back-to-back trophies finished in a tie for 25th at six under and he was joined by Patrick Reed (69).

Three-time Travelers Championship winner Bubba Watson is tied for the lead heading into the final round at TPC River Highlands. 

Watson and fellow American Kramer Hickok carded two-under-par 68s on Saturday to lead the tournament at 10 under. 

Second-round leader Jason Day (70) lurks one stroke back along with Cameron Smith (66) and Russell Henley (68) after 54 holes. 

Two-time Masters champion Watson won his first PGA Tour title at the 2010 Travelers and triumphed again in 2015 and 2018 - the latter his most recent Tour victory. 

Watson said he plans to be aggressive on the back nine on Sunday if he is still in contention. 

"You don't want to play safe," he said. "In my stage of my career if I have a chance to win I'm going to go for it.

"That's the key. I'm not going to worry about third or fourth place. I am going to try to go for it if I can."

Hickok was in position for the outright lead, having turned in a flawless round before recording bogeys at 17 and 18. 

Nonetheless, the 29-year-old Texan has at least a share of the lead after 54 holes for the first time on tour as he looks for his first career win. 

Harris English (67), Brice Garnett (69) and K.H. Lee (69) are two shots behind the leaders at eight under, while Dustin Johnson (65) and Bryson DeChambeau (68) are well within striking distance at seven under. 

Brooks Koepka (69) and Patrick Reed (70) are among those at five under. 

Former world number one Jason Day leads the Travelers Championship heading into the weekend after surging to the top of the leaderboard following two rounds.

Day went low in the second round on Friday, carding a bogey-free and Travelers Championship career-best eight-under-par 62 to claim a one-stroke lead at TPC River Highlands.

Winner of the 2015 US PGA Championship and a 12-time PGA Tour champion, Day's career has been hampered by lingering back problems.

Day withdrew from the Memorial Tournament due to a back injury and did not qualify for the U.S. Open, having missed three consecutive cuts before tying for 44th at the PGA Championship.

But Day enjoyed a return to form as the Australian star earned his first lead/co-lead at a non-major tournament since 2017 thanks to a flawless round, which included eight birdies.

"Sometimes when you do have sort of an injury or stiffness, even if you're sick, sometimes you can come out and play some good golf," he said. "I was fortunate enough to not really get in my own way today."

Three-time Travelers Championship winner Bubba Watson (66) and co-overnight leader Kramer Hickok (69) are tied for second at eight under through 36 holes.

Hickok was 10 under before crumbling at the par-three 16th hole, where he three-putted from 18 feet for a double-bogey to end the day alongside Watson.

Russell Henley (66), Kevin Kisner (63), Seamus Power (67), Justin Rose (63), K.H. Lee (64), Brice Garnett (68) and Troy Merritt (65) are all seven under heading into Saturday's third round.

Big-hitting American star Bryson DeChambeau followed up his first-round 69 with a four-under-par 66 to be four strokes off the pace, alongside the likes of 2012 champion Marc Leishman (66) and Patrick Reed (66).

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka also recorded another round in the 60s – a second-round 67 – to be a shot further back.

PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson (69) and defending champion Dustin Johnson (68) finished just a shot above the cut line at two under to qualify for the weekend.

Richard Bland upstaged a star-studded field to earn a share of the U.S. Open lead at the halfway stage as defending champion Bryson DeChambeau soared up the leaderboard.

Unheralded Englishman Bland, 48, powered to the top of the summit at Torrey Pines thanks to his four-under-par 67 in San Diego, where he continues to prove patience pays off.

Alongside Russell Henley (70) for the one-stroke lead after two rounds, Bland is benefitting from perseverance, having gone almost 20 years without a European Tour title.

At the 478th attempt on the European Tour last month, Bland claimed an emotional win at the British Masters, which earned him a place in his fourth major championship.

Bland – who missed the cut at his one previous U.S. Open appearance in 2009 – dazzled on day two of this year's tournament, storming into the clubhouse lead before being joined by American Henley.

After opening with a 70, Bland holed seven birdies and three bogeys to catapult himself to the top of the standings, before Henley teed off in his second round, amid his improbable dream of clinching a major.

"I feel good about my game," said three-time PGA Tour champion Henley, whose previous best performance at a major came via an 11th-place finish at the 2017 Masters.

"I've never been in this position before in a major. Just feel like I'm going to learn something no matter what happens."

Louis Oosthuizen (71), who was the overnight co-leader along with Henley, ended day two in a tie for third position alongside Matthew Wolff (68), while Bubba Watson (67) and Jon Rahm (70) are a shot further back at three under through 36 holes.

DeChambeau boosted his hopes of back-to-back U.S. Open titles, though the big-hitting American star remains five strokes off the pace heading into the weekend.

A two-under-par 69 saw DeChambeau move to even par as he rose 47 positions into a tie for 13th alongside rival and two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka (73), Justin Thomas (69), Collin Morikawa (67), Harris English (70), Branden Grace (70), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (70) and Adam Hadwin (72).

Koepka – eyeing a fifth major crown – lost ground on the leaders after mixing five bogeys and just three birdies, while Rory McIlroy followed his opening-round 70 with a 73 to be one over the card as world number one Dustin Johnson (73) ended the day two over.

US PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson emerged from the jaws of elimination, qualifying for the weekend via a two-under-par 69 after his forgettable 75 on Thursday.

Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (76), Adam Scott (75), Sergio Garcia (74), Patrick Reed (73) and Jordan Spieth (69) all avoided the cut, but Justin Rose (77) was not so fortunate at 13 over.

Bubba Watson believes golf should be celebrating the biggest hitters in the game – and he cannot work out why the sport is so "mad at that guy".

Without naming Bryson DeChambeau, Watson appeared to have his mind set on the likes of the man who leads the PGA Tour for driving distance this season.

DeChambeau, who is driving an average of over 320 yards, has faced some flak for placing such an emphasis on physical strength and building up his body to be more powerful off the tee. He plays with custom clubs, each of the same length, and is the defending champion this week at the U.S. Open, an unorthodox winner who rubs some up the wrong way.

Two-time Masters champion Watson, after moving into contention following the second round at Torrey Pines, used his platform to condemn what he sees as a culture of negativity towards players re-thinking the game and finding new ways to win.

"Truthfully, here's the sad part for me. I've got the microphone so I'm going to talk. The sad part for me is we celebrate every sport in the world. We celebrate accomplishments. We celebrate a guy scoring 50 points in the NBA. They are not saying quit shooting three-pointers. But we don't celebrate when a guy makes eight birdies or a guy bombs it 400 yards," Watson said.

"I don't understand how we're not celebrating. We're trying to make golf courses bigger, harder, dumber, however you want to word it, but we're not celebrating our great players.

"I'm definitely not in that group of great players. I'm saying I want to see these guys hammering the ball. I want the next up-and-comer. I want a 6ft 8in guy not playing in the NBA, I want to see him on the PGA Tour bombing the ball.

"We're the only sport not celebrating accomplishments of being a guy working out in the gym that can hit the ball miles. We're mad at that guy. I don't know why, but we are. I'm not, but some people are – golf course designers.

"The NBA, Tom Brady winning, throwing touchdowns, we celebrate that. They don't ever talk about us chopping out of the – hey, he laid up again. That's great. Anyway, that's my rant for the day."

Watson was offloading that baggage after adding a 67 to his opening 72 to reach three under, looking sure to be in contention going into the weekend as he sits just two shots behind clubhouse leader Richard Bland.

DeChambeau followed a 73 with a 69 to sit on level par, still in the hunt at five off the pace.

That was a far healthier position than Patrick Reed, Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth found themselves in.

Reed bogeyed his final hole to slip to three over, a five-foot putt brushing the edge of the cup. Reed won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines earlier this year but was on the borderline of the cut mark after his round on Friday.

Rose added a 77 to his opening 78, and that meant the former champion had no chance of staying around for the weekend's action.

Three-time major winner Spieth followed an opening 77 with a gutsy 69 to give himself a slim chance of making the cut.

If there ever was a course to get slumping Rory McIlroy back on track, Quail Hollow might be it. 

McIlroy shot a five-under-par 66 Friday at the Wells Fargo Championship to make the cut for the first time in two months and reach four-under for the tournament, two strokes behind leaders Matt Wallace, Gary Woodland and Patrick Rodgers. 

First-round leader Phil Mickelson dropped to a tie for 10th overall after carding a 75 at the Charlotte, North Carolina course. 

Only Roger Sloan (64) went lower than McIlroy in the second round, as the 32-year-old recorded six birdies and just one bogey after shooting 72 in the first round. 

The Northern Irishman recorded his first PGA Tour victory at Quail Hollow in 2010 and won there again in 2015. He lost out to Rickie Fowler in a three-man playoff in 2012. 

McIlroy is playing his first tournament since missing the cut at the Masters and The Players Championship, the latter coming a week after a 10th-place finish at the Arnold Palmer invitational in early March. 

"When you played the way I played sort of through that stretch in March and into April, you're going to feel like you're not as close as you probably are," McIlroy told reporters. 

"But I worked hard after Augusta. I took a week off and reset, which I needed.

"Then I put my head down and worked hard and at least felt better about everything coming in here."

Among the three leaders heading into the weekend, Wallace shot 67 Friday, Rodgers 68 and Woodland 69.

Kramer Hickok is one stroke back at five-under for the tournament, while Scott Piercy, Keith Mitchell, Carlos Ortiz and Scott Stallings are tied with McIlroy at four-under. 

Mickelson and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson are among those at three-under, while 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed sits four back of the leaders. 

Justin Thomas is six back entering the weekend, while 2020 U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau and 2020 Open Championship winner Shane Lowry just made the two-over cut. 

Among those who missed the cut were past major champions Fowler, Jason Day, Francesco Molinari and Lucas Glover  in addition to defending champion Max Homa and Jon Rahm.

Rahm had made 22 consecutive cuts, the longest active streak on Tour.

Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel turned in a nine-under 63 in four-ball play to take the lead after the third round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. 

The South African duo are 19-under for the tournament and were one of six teams to record a 63, vaulting them past second-round leaders Tony Finau and Cameron Champ by a stroke. 

Australians Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith also shot nine-under and are tied for second with the American pair. 

The top of the leaderboard at TPC Louisiana is crowded, with Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler sitting two shots back along with first-round leaders Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura. 

The tournament, which switched to a team event in 2017, features four-ball in the first and third rounds and foursomes in the second and fourth. 

Three teams are at 16 under and nine more at 15 under, with the latter group including defending champions Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer. 

The shot of the day belonged to Sam Ryder, who holed a five iron from 206 yards at No. 2 for a double eagle -- the first at the tournament since Rob Oppenheim did it in 2018.

 

 

 

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