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Lee Westwood cites quarantine issues with travel to U.S. for PGA Tour events

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The PGA Tour is set to return to action next month in Texas, but the plight of international players residing overseas makes their involvement in the scheduled tournaments problematic.

Veteran Lee Westwood highlighted those obstacles in an interview Tuesday with Golf Channel in which he said he is entered in the first two events -- the Charles Schwab Challenge and the RBC Heritage -- but is unlikely to leave his home in the United Kingdom to play.

The reason? The two-week quarantine that is required of any international traveler arriving in the United States in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Westwood would then be forced to isolate for another two weeks upon returning to Europe.

"Right now, I won't be playing them," Westwood said in the interview. "Not with having to leave here two weeks before, quarantine, then play the two tournaments, then come back here and quarantine again. It's six weeks for two tournaments, and to me, that's just not worth it.

"And it's not worth taking the risk if everybody thinks that those kind of precautions have got to be in place. I don't feel like golf's a priority if it's that severe.''

Westwood, 47, a 25-time winner on the European Tour who won the Abu Dhabi Championship earlier this year and is ranked 31st in the world, is one of about 25 international players, according to the PGA Tour, who are currently outside of the United States. There is a similar number of caddies overseas.

PGA Tour executive Andy Levinson told reporters on a call last week that the tour was "working with the federal government to facilitate the return of players and caddies'' who are outside the United States.

But Levinson acknowledged that current rules require the quarantine, "and it is likely to continue, and so it is imperative that those constituents that we have that need to come back in the United States do so at least two weeks prior to our return to our competition.''

That means that in order to play the Charles Schwab in Fort Worth, Texas, players would need to be in the country by Monday to give themselves the two weeks necessary to then be eligible to practice and compete in the tournament.

England's Tommy Fleetwood is another player who said he will not return to the United States in the short term because it would mean too much time away from home. He is considering a later arrival that would allow him to stay for all of the major championships and the Ryder Cup.

Another scheduling issue for Westwood occurs later in the summer, when he is the host of the British Masters (July 30-Aug. 2). That is the week before the rescheduled PGA Championship in San Francisco. If quarantine rules are still in place then, Westwood would have to miss that major championship.

The European Tour event is scheduled to be the first one played since March. Westwood said the tournament, if played, will not allow spectators.

"It's a tough situation,'' he said. "We can't afford anything to go wrong and this virus to spread any more than it has done. It's going to be a fine line, and it's a balance between having the tournaments but limiting the spread of the virus.

"Obviously, people want something to watch, and it's a good way to kick-start your economy. But we don't want a second wave, so we have to make sure we are very, very safe."