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As Walker Cup approaches, stomach illness affecting both sides

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JUNO BEACH, Fla. – With the 48th Walker Cup just a day away, several players are dealing with stomach illness.

GolfChannel.com first reported on Thursday that a handful of competitors from both the U.S. and GB&I squads, including Americans Davis Thompson and Austin Eckroat and Ireland's John Murphy, had been dealing with what many suspected as food poisoning, though team doctors have since ruled that out. Thompson and Eckroat missed Wednesday's practice at Seminole Golf Club, and Thompson was still sluggish on an abbreviated Thursday highlighted by multiple weather delays.

“I’m feeling a lot better today, so hopefully tomorrow I’ll be back to 100 percent and be ready to roll by Saturday,” Thompson said. “How I’m feeling now compared to yesterday is night and day.”

While the issues appeared to be behind both teams, on Thursday evening back at the team hotel, The Breakers in Palm Beach, a few more players started feeling ill after dinner, prompting the USGA and R&A to release a joint statement on Friday morning. COVID-19 also was ruled out, and instead the issues were described as "gastrointestinal."

“Over the past 24 hours, a number of players from both the GB&I and USA teams have been treated for gastrointestinal issues and are currently under observation by medical professionals at the teams’ hotel," the statement read. "All players from both teams have tested negative in their daily screenings and COVID-19 has been ruled out as the cause. The players have adhered to the strict health and safety guidelines established as a code of conduct for the match.

"The health and safety of the players and all involved in the match is our utmost priority and we are closely monitoring the situation. At this time, there is no expectation of a disruption to the timing of the matches of the biennial competition. We will provide additional updates if necessary."

Ten total competitors, five from each squad, along with U.S. captain Nathaniel Crosby and GB&I captain Stuart Wilson did not travel to the course of Friday morning. Thompson, Eckroat, Ricky Castillo, Cole Hammer, Quade Cummins, Stewart Hagestad and alternate Cooper Dossey were present and practicing Friday, as were GB&I members Murphy, Alex Fitzpatrick, Angus Flanagan, Mark Power, Matty Lamb, Jake Dyer and alternate Jake Bolton.

By the afternoon, most all of the players had made it to Seminole for some practice, though both captains remained at the hotel.

It is unknown if the format – two two-session days beginning with four foursomes matches Saturday morning – will be altered because of the issue, or if any alternates will need to be used. Both squads traveled with two extra players and they have all been practicing this week.