Two-time major champion Bubba Watson announced Sunday he has withdrawn from The Open Championship after being directly exposed to an individual who tested positive for COVID-19, becoming just the latest star golfer to pull out of the final major on the circuit.
"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. "I appreciate the R&A's guidance and help navigating the UK policy for such situations."
Watson, who won the 2012 and 2014 Masters, was joined Sunday by 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama in withdrawing from the event. Matsuyama recently tested positive for COVID-19 and cited that as well as the lack of practice leading up to The Open as reasons for his WD. World No. 35 Matthew Wolff, one of the sport's young superstars, also withdrew this weekend along with Danny Lee and K.H. Lee.
The last-hour withdrawals have led to a constantly-changing list of alternates. Watson will be replaced in the field by Brendan Steele, joining fellow American Harold Varner III in the Open field after he was elevated following Matsuyama's WD. Antoine Rozner, Andy Sullivan and Troy Merritt have also been moved from the alternate list to the Open field this weekend.
Watson has played well on the Tour this season and he is coming off a T6 finish last weekend at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit. In five of his last eight outings he's finished at least top 20 on the leaderboard.