(Reuters) – Former world number one Lee Westwood said that he was reluctant to travel anywhere for tournaments amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but speaking to his fellow professionals eased his concerns about playing in the U.S. Open.
The Englishman, who has 25 European Tour wins and two PGA Tour victories, had previously said he was slightly asthmatic and would not feel comfortable playing in the United States where over 197,200 people have died due to COVID-19.
The 47-year-old skipped the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis and the PGA Championship in San Francisco, but returned to action in Spain this month at the Andalucia Masters where he was tied for 10th place.
“(It was) just feedback from other people that have been at tournaments and telling me what’s going on at tournaments and stuff like that and I felt comfortable coming here,” Westwood told reporters.
Westwood, who shot a three-under-par 67 in the first round at Winged Foot Golf Club on Thursday to sit tied-fifth, said that people had to respect the choices of players who skip tournaments out of health and safety concerns.
“It’s just a strange world that we’re living in right now, and people have different opinions on things, don’t they? They evaluate things, see things in different ways,” he added.
“I don’t really criticize anybody that takes an opinion opposite to mine. It’s just that you shouldn’t be at a golf tournament if you don’t feel like it’s right.
“I’m not saying it isn’t right for certain people, but for me it wasn’t right (to travel earlier).”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing)