PGA superstar Bubba Watson announced Sunday that he would miss an upcoming major tournament, The Open Championship, which is slated to take place this next weekend at the Royal St George's Golf Club in Sandwich, England.
Watson's announcement triggered mockery over the COVID-19 protocols.
What did Watson say?
Despite being vaccinated against COVID-19, Watson explained he would not compete at The Open — one of the PGA's four annual "major" tournaments — next week because he was exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Watson said in a statement:
I am disappointed to announce I will not compete at The Open Championship next week due to having direct exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. While I am vaccinated and have passed the required pre-travel COVID test, not enough time has passed for me to comfortably join the charter flight and risk exposure to the other players and personnel on board. I appreciate the R&A's guidance and help navigating UK policy for such situations.
Please read… https://t.co/ryN6tDL2TU— bubba watson (@bubba watson)1626008409.0
COVID rules are stricter in the U.K., which explains why Watson was forced to withdraw from the tournament despite being vaccinated and passing COVID-related travel requirements.
"Rules for close contacts are stricter in the United Kingdom for golfers deemed to be a close contact than in the United States. Close contacts in the U.K. are forced to withdraw from tournaments. In the U.S., close contacts undergo daily testing," ESPN reported.
In fact, Watson confirmed this is why he cannot play in the tournament next week.
"For those wondering, the UK and US Covid-19 guidelines are quite different. Getting on the charter or a commercial flight was not an option available to me after my recent exposure. I don't make the rules but do have to follow them," he said.
What was the reaction?
Watson's announcement was denounced by many on social media preciously because being vaccinated against COVID was meant to stop people from being blocked from participating in "normal life."
"That's just crazy. That's the purpose of being vaccinated," one person said, sentiment that was echoed by dozens of others.
"So you are vaccinated, have no symptoms and have a negative covid test and that's still not enough? When does the insanity end? We will miss watching you - but wish you would call out these crazy nonsensical rules," another person said.
Fellow golf star Phil Mickelson said, "I'm so sorry. You've been playing some great golf and the course is such a great one for you."