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Watney bored in isolation, nervous about how he got virus

(AP) — Monday marked the 10th day of self-isolation for Nick Watney, the minimum required for PGA Tour players who test positive for the new coronavirus.

He said he is feeling good except for some minor fatigue, perhaps brought on by a major case of boredom, and except for the distinction of becoming the first of what now is five players and two caddies who have tested positive since the PGA Tour returned amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I will say, it’s not the greatest feeling being the first to get it,” Watney said in his first interview since he was notified June 19 at the the RBC Heritage of his positive test.

“Some things are so vague around this thing,” he said. “The symptoms … some people get this, some get that. I haven’t had a fever or cough the whole time, no shortness of breath. Maybe that’s the reason it’s so scary. I still don’t know how or where I got it.”

He lost his sense of smell, a sensation he described as “gnarly,” but said that is coming back. And perhaps the strangest sensation is being at a golf resort without playing golf.

He remains in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, as the PGA Tour has moved on to Connecticut, and now Detroit this week, and then two weeks in Ohio. The show goes on.

“Very, very boring,” he said. “Being on the road and not playing golf is a weird feeling.”

Three more players tested positive during the Travelers Championship — Cameron Champ before the tournament started, Denny McCarthy after his first round and Dylan Frittelli after he missed the cut. Two caddies tested positive, which caused a chain reaction of withdrawals. Harris English tested positive Monday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.

Watney spent part of Monday arranging for a rental car for the 17-hour drive to Austin, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Amber, and their four children, ranging in age from 6 years to 6 months.

“I don’t want to fly at this point,” he said. “I just think all this could be a waste of time if I left early and got someone else sick. I’d feel terrible.”

He said his wife was nervous when he called her the day of the test. She managed to get herself and the children tested the following day, and the tests came back negative. A week later, none has any symptoms.

Watney laughed at the notion he might be responsible for PGA Tour players all getting a WHOOP strap, which can provide early indications of the virus. That was part of the tour trying to tighten its protocols as it continues its schedule.

The strap is what alerted Watney.

He bought one a year ago to study his sleep pattern and other health metrics, trying to do everything possible to help the 39-year-old add to his five PGA Tour victories and one appearance in the Presidents Cup.

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