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Bubba Watson, Hideki Matsuyama out of The Open because of COVID-19 protocols

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SANDWICH, England – Bubba Watson became the second player in a four-hour window on Sunday to withdraw from The Open Championship because of COVID-19 issues.

Watson will miss the championship after coming into close contact with someone who had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“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,” Watson said in a statement on social media. “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.”

Watson later added clarification after seeing some of the responses to his initial tweet: "For those wondering, the U.K. and U.S. COVID-19 guidelines are quite different. Getting on the charter or a commercial flight was not an option available to me after my recent exposure. I don’t make the rules but do have to follow them."

Just four hours earlier on Sunday, the R&A announced that Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama had also withdrawn from The Open. Matsuyama tested positive for COVID-19 at last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic and although he’s symptom-free, he continues to test positive.

Brendan Steele will replace Watson in the field at Royal St. George’s while Harold Varner III took Matsuyama's spot. The current alternates are, in order, John Catlin, Adam Long and Sam Horsfield.