Golf

Former World No. 1 Lee Westwood Slams the U.S. on COVID-19, Will Skip PGA Championship

Over the last quarter-century, former world No. 1 Lee Westwood has teed it up in 82 major championships, somehow never winning a single one of them. But he won’t take his 83rd shot at a major win until at least September as the 25-time European Tour winner has opted not to play the PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco, which begins on August 6.

The two-time PGA Tour winner also won’t be in Memphis next week for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, which will feature a strong field that includes the top eight players in the world. Westwood, who made his return to competitive golf this past week as the European Tour resumed play, has concerns about traveling to the U.S. as he feels the country isn’t taking COVID-19 as seriously as it should.

Lee Westwood has played the most majors without a win

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As mentioned, Lee Westwood has played in 82 major championships, the most played without a victory. He also holds the record for most top-10 finishes in a major without a win with 19, the last coming at the most recent major that was played, the 2019 Open Championship, where he finished tied for fourth.

Westwood is one of just two players to ever reach the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking without winning a major, the other being fellow Englishman Luke Donald. He’s finished third or better in each of the four majors.

He just made his return to competitive golf

Following a lengthy layoff due to COVID-19, Lee Westwood just made his return to competitive golf this past week. As he spends the majority of his time playing in Europe, he chose not to come to the U.S. when the PGA Tour restarted its season last month, instead waiting until the European Tour resumed play, which it did on Thursday.

Westwood actually hosted the European Tour’s first tournament back, the British Masters, and finished 70th, dead last of the players who made the weekend.

Lee Westwood says the U.S. isn’t taking COVID-19 as serious as it should

Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood | Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Over the weekend, the U.S. government lifted certain travel restrictions for sports stars looking to enter the country for events. Under the previous rules, someone like Lee Westwood would have had to come to the States two weeks before a tournament to quarantine, which is what Tommy Fleetwood just did before making his competitive return at this week’s 3M Open.

Players now don’t have to wait the two weeks to play but must go straight to the tournament when they arrive in the U.S. But Lee Westwood won’t be crossing the Atlantic anytime soon. Following his final round at the British Masters, he was asked by The Scotsman if he’d be heading overseas for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and the PGA Championship and Westwood said that he wouldn’t be as he doesn’t feel safe.

“No. I know they’ve dropped the two-week quarantine now, but I still don’t feel comfortable and I don’t feel like it is right to jump on a plane for 12 hours.

“The two America tournaments, next week and the following week, I’m still more concerned that America doesn’t take it as seriously as the rest of the world. It still seems to be one of the hot spots for outbreaks.

“I can control me not getting the virus and take all the measures I can, but somebody might pass it on. I don’t really want to get ill with it and I’m slightly asthmatic. If I tested in Memphis I would have to stay there for two weeks and I’m not sure about insurance policies etc.”

Lee Westwood

Westwood went on to say that his next start will likely be at the English Championship at Hanbury Manor, which begins the same day as the PGA Championship. It’s not yet known if he’ll head to the States for the U.S. Open in September.