Two of the more intriguing young stars in the sport will miss the 2020 U.S. Open because of positive COVID-19 tests this week. Scottie Scheffler withdrew over the weekend following his top-five finish at the Tour Championship two weeks ago, and on Monday, European Tour star Sam Horsfield added his name to the list of late scratches for the season's first major championship at Winged Foot Golf Club.
Horsfield last competed at the Wales Open at the end of August and said he tested negative last week before flying to the United States. No such luck this week, and the U.S. Open is experiencing something we have not seen much of since professional golf restarted at the beginning of June, multiple WDs because of positive COVID-19 tests.
Scheffler will be replaced by Branden Grace (who, coincidentally, was the last player to WD from a PGA Tour event because of the coronavirus), and Horsfield will be replaced by Rory Sabbatini.
"We are sorry to lose a member of the USGA family in this year's U.S. Open field," said USGA senior managing director of championships John Bodenhamer about Scheffler's WD. "Scottie has had a phenomenal rookie season and we look forward to welcoming him back to the U.S. Open Championship for many years to come."
"Sam has had an excellent year on the European Tour, winning the UK series to earn a spot in this year's U.S. Open at Winged Foot, and we are disappointed to lose a player of his caliber from the field," added Bodenhamer. "Sam has a wonderful USGA pedigree and we look forward to watching him play in future U.S. Open Championships."
Both players could have been contenders this year.
Scheffler, ranked No. 28 in the world, was entering the event with 40-1 odds to win after finishing with seven top 10s in his rookie season on the PGA Tour. The former University of Texas star played particularly well over the last two months after a streak of three missed cuts following the June restart. He finished 22nd at the Memorial, tied for 15th at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, tied for fourth at the PGA Championship and continued surging during the FedEx Cup playoffs..
Horsfield's success as the No. 81 player in the world has come mostly on the European Tour. He won two of his last four starts -- at the Hero Open and Celtic Classic -- and was playing the best and most consistent golf of his professional career.
Now, COVID-19 has become one of the primary storylines of the week at Winged Foot after a few months where it was hardly a storyline at all. Hopefully, for the sake and integrity of the event and the 144 players currently entered, the WDs stop here and the virus does not affect the U.S. Open any further.
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