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PGA Tour to end 'coronavirus' groups and allow return to full competition

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The PGA Tour policy board approved a change to its Health and Safety Policy on Monday that will allow players, who continue to test positive for COVID-19 after 10 days of isolation and 72 hours without any fever or respiratory issue, to return to full competition.

Earlier this month, these players were allowed to compete on Tour but weren’t allowed access to locker rooms, fitness facilities and were only grouped with other players in the “timed out” policy. Monday’s change allows these players to compete without restrictions.

“This guideline is underpinned by research conducted by the CDC that indicates that in no instances yet discovered has there been a case where virus is able to self-replicate beyond the 10th day following a positive test, and therefore an individual in this situation poses no harm to others,” read a memo from Tyler Dennis, the Tour’s chief of operations, that was e-mailed to players Tuesday. “However, in the event that the individual continues to be tested [as is the case in the PGA Tour health and safety protocol], it is very likely that the individual will continue to return a positive result.”

Three players – Dylan Frittelli, Harris English and Denny McCarthy – have been subject to the “timed out” policy in recent weeks and have been forced to play as a onesome or as a “coronavirus” threesome. Only McCarthy is competing this week, at the Barracuda Championship.

The Tour also adjusted the testing protocols for these players. According to the memo the “timed out” players will not be required to take the PCR coronavirus tests at tournaments sites for three months after the onset of symptoms.

It remains to be seen how the policy change might impact next week’s PGA Championship. Both English and Frittelli are currently qualified for the season’s first, and only, major.

“We are continuing to review this particular situation and are discussing it with both our medical advisors and the PGA Tour as well as listening to the most recent CDC guidelines,” the PGA of America said in a statement last week.