Bubba Watson withdraws from British Open following COVID-19 exposure

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Bubba Watson will not play in the 2021 British Open.

Watson said Sunday morning that he can't play in the fourth and final major of the year because he had been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Watson said in his statement that he was vaccinated and had not tested positive for COVID-19 but was unable to play because of the stricter quarantine and exposure rules in place at the event in the United Kingdom.

The British Open has the strictest COVID-19 rules of any of golf's major tournaments after it was not held in 2020 because of the virus. Players are required to be in their own bubbles for the event — whether they're vaccinated or not — and are not allowed to go out into public to get groceries or go to a restaurant. Players like Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas typically share a house when they're playing in the same tournament. They can't do that this year.

"You can argue or complain as much as you want, it's not going to change," U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm said before the Scottish Open earlier this week. "Just take it with what it is and that's about it. I feel like a lot of the family restrictions in, let's say, each player's team restrictions, it's a little too much."

"But I understand why they want us to stay at home and why they want us to keep the players as safe as possible. It doesn't change my mind that much. I usually just go in a major championship, I'll be in a house and go to the golf course and come back to the house. I'm not going out the sightseeing or anything else. In that sense, it hasn't changed.

"But if you have your significant others or want family to be here, it is more difficult and in that sense. It does get a little harder. But again, it's the rules they put up and we just have to deal with it and follow them."

Rahm won the U.S. Open just two weeks after he was forced to withdraw from the Memorial tournament while leading after three rounds because of a COVID-19 test. Rahm was in between his first and second vaccination shots when he tested positive.

Watson, 42, has 12 career PGA Tour wins. He won the Masters in 2012 and 2014. His best British Open finish is a tie for 23rd in 2012.

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