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Rory McIlroy reveals contact with Nick Watney before American's positive Covid-19 test at RBC Heritage event

 

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Rory McIlroy in action at Harbour Town Golf Links.

Rory McIlroy in action at Harbour Town Golf Links.

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Nick Watney has tested positive for coronavirus (Peter Byrne/PA)

Nick Watney has tested positive for coronavirus (Peter Byrne/PA)

Nick Watney

Nick Watney

Rory McIlroy in action at Harbour Town Golf Links.

Rory McIlroy revealed that he spoke to Nick Watney 'at a distance' before news of the American's positive Covid-19 test broke later on Friday.

Watney had tested negative before the RBC Heritage tournament began but was exhibiting symptoms of the virus on Friday, prior to his arrival at the Harbour Town Golf Links, and a subsequent test came back positive.

That was only after he had been speaking to McIlroy on the putting green

"We were at a distance," confirmed the world number one who shot a six under par 65 to make it through to the weekend by two shots.

"He was just saying, 'I hope I didn't get too close to you'. He feels badly that he was here today at the golf course.

"I said, 'look, it's fine. You never know.' So I said to him, if I was in his position, I probably would have been here too.

"At this point, he just has to concentrate on getting better and getting healthy."

The PGA Tour is currently implementing its response plan and is working with anyone who may have come into contact with Watney.

McIlroy, however, is hopeful he can continue to try and close the seven shot gap to leader Webb Simpson.

"We're still in the middle of a pandemic," he continued. "Until this thing's over, we all just have to stay vigilant and keep your distance and wear our masks if we're going out in public and keep washing our hands.

"I think the consensus was someone is going to get it at some point, and Nick's the one that's got it, and he's self-isolating and doing what he has to do.

"It's a shame, but the show goes on. We've got 36 holes to play at this tournament. When I do the things I'm supposed to do and I'm at the tournament site, I feel very safe."

McIlroy made three birdies on each nine of a bogey-free second round to fight his into a tie for 45th.

There wasn't such good news, however, for Graeme McDowell or Shane Lowry, who both missed the cut despite marked improvements.

McDowell carded a five under par 66 but thanks to his opening 75, missed the mark by three while Lowry's Friday 67 left him alongside McDowell on one under par.

At the top of the leaderboard, World No.9 Simpson had a hot day with the putter, rolling in a combined 186ft of putts on his way to setting the pace at 12 under, one stroke ahead of DeChambeau and Conners who are both on 11 under.

The latter’s second round was particularly impressive, his eight-under 63 the best of the day alongside Jhonattan Vegas and Tyler Duncan, with Ryan Palmer a further shot behind in fourth at 10 under par.

Belfast Telegraph