Rory McIlroy hints that he might not return to Europe to play amid Covid-19 fears

The Northern Irishman is competing in the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Tennessee this week and will play in the US PGA Championship next week and the US Open in September.

But, when asked about the possibility of returning to Europe for golf tournaments, McIlroy cast doubt, saying he might avoid traveling to reduce being exposed.

"I honestly don't know if I see myself going back to Europe this year," the world No. 2 said. "I don't know.

"I don't know if I want to travel, I don't know if I want to be exposed to more things and more people. So I don't know, I have no idea and I'm sort of taking it week by week.

"I've got my schedule planned up until the US Open, which is obviously a couple weeks after the Tour Championship, and then I honestly have no idea what I'm going to do after that."

Fellow professional's Lee Westwood and Eddie Pepperell decided not to travel to San Francisco for the PGA Championship next week, with Westwood saying he still doesn't "feel comfortable." And McIlroy was in full support of their decisions.

"I understand their plight," McIlroy said. "I was just saying I don't know if I would travel in the fall and go and play some of these other events in Europe, but if it was a major championship, it would probably be different and I probably would go over and play it.

"But that's not to say what Lee and Eddie are doing isn't right, that they feel safer and they feel that their time is better spent at home and not exposing themselves to more people and not having the chance of getting sick or getting someone else sick.

"So I completely understand where they're coming from, but if it was an Open Championship and I had the chance to go over and play, I would probably take the risk and go and play."

READ: Is Bryson DeChambeau irreversibly changing golf?

Playing with no fans

Following on the announcement that August's US PGA Championship will be held without fans, the US Open is following suit.

In partnership with the state of New York, the United States Golf Association (USGA) announced in a press release Wednesday that the 120th championship, which is scheduled September 17-20 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York, will take place without spectators.

"Following months of consultation and scenario planning with local and state health officials, we have jointly decided that hosting the U.S. Open without spectators will provide the best opportunity to conduct the championship safely for all involved," said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA.

"We will miss the excitement of the fans and what their presence brings to the championship. We look forward to welcoming them again to future U.S. Opens."

The tournament had originally been scheduled for June 18-21 but was postponed in April.

"I am pleased to welcome the USGA for the U.S. Open Championship at Winged Foot Golf Club this September," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

"And while the tournament will look different this year with no fans and enhanced safety protocols, this event is a welcome sight for sports fans across the country and will help restore a sense of normalcy as we build back better than before."

READ: American Michael Thompson wins second PGA Tour event, 2,702 days after his first

Forced to withdraw

As the LPGA Tour resumes competitive action with the Drive On Championship at Inverness Golf Course in Toledo, Ohio, one player, Gaby Lopez, has been forced to withdraw following a positive Covid-19 test.

The 26-year-old announced that following the tour's Covid-19 testing process, she had tested positive and is now beginning her 10-day isolation. Lopez is the first LPGA player to test positive for Covid-19.

She told fans on Twitter that she is "feeling good and have only very mild symptoms."

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"I was very excited to get back to playing on Tour after this long break and while I'm disappointed that I'll have to wait a little longer, I am glad that I was able to get tested and to make sure I do not put anyone else at risk," Lopez, who is from Mexico, said in a statement.

"I am self-isolating and will be following all the CDC and LPGA guidelines to get back to competing on Tour in a safe manner. I'm feeling good and looking forward to when I can return to playing on Tour."



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