Updated with more information at 4 p.m. on June 20, 2020.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — The PGA Tour made it through 11 days of its return to competition before Nick Watney became its first golfer to test positive for the novel coronavirus. The next question is who's next — or how many — before the show no longer goes on.
The tour began contact tracing of anyone who might have been in close contact with Watney, who tested negative Tuesday when he arrived for the RBC Heritage tournament, reported symptoms Friday at Harbour Town Golf Links and had another test that came back positive.
The tour said 11 people were tested Friday — that includes players and all caddies in Watney's group, plus another caddie staying with Watney — and all 11 tests were negative. Former Baylor School standout Luke List, who along with Vaughn Taylor was paired with Watney in the first round, was in that group.
There was a secondary test, and those results were not expected until later Saturday at the earliest. Taylor made the cut and was playing Saturday, while List did not advance to the weekend.
Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth were among those not surprised by the positive test.
"I think the consensus was someone is going to get it at some point, and Nick's the one that's got it, and he's self-isolating and doing what he has to do," McIlroy said. "Yeah, it's a shame, but the show goes on."
Spieth is one of four players on the PGA Tour's board of directors and was involved in every meeting as the tour put together a 37-page protocol called "The Return to Golf."
It included plans for a positive test. Watney must self-isolate for at least 10 days. It ends provided he has no subsequent symptoms or has two negative test results at least 24 hours apart.
The tour said it would have no further comment, and Watney did not return a phone call.
Players have a designated hotel that is not mandatory. They are urged not to eat out at restaurants, also a recommendation for caddies and the essential personnel who must be tested when they arrive at every tournament.
Fans are not permitted on the course. It's up to the golfers as to what they do to stay isolate — or not — after hours, though.
Justin Thomas is staying in a villa with Spieth and Rickie Fowler, and they brought a chef. Thomas was among those who noted how busy it was on Hilton Head Island, a popular vacation spot in the summer.
"No offense to Hilton Head, but they're seeming to not take it very seriously," Thomas said. "It's an absolute zoo around here. There's people everywhere. The beaches are absolutely packed. Every restaurant, from what I've seen when I've been driving by, is absolutely crowded."
Carlos Ortiz went for dinner near the Harbour Town lighthouse on Tuesday and saw the same thing.
"It's a 30-minute wait, and once you get in there, there's no social distancing, packed tables right next to each other, kids running around," Ortiz said Saturday. "We were impressed how nobody was wearing a mask. We talked about it on Tuesday when we saw it. We were like, 'Oh, somebody's going to get corona here.' It's crazy how busy it is in here inside the island."
The tournament is typically played in April, the week after the Masters, when school is still in session. With the pandemic shutting down golf for three months, the RBC Heritage originally was canceled, but then moved to June after the Canadian Open was canceled and the U.S. Open was moved to September.
"Even if you wanted to go somewhere, there's no place to go," Joel Dahmen said. "We tried to rent bikes this week, and they're sold out."
Watney's caddie, Tony Navarro, said he tested negative. He is self-isolating on the island, able to go to the store provided he wears a mask. He said he was staying to help Watney with anything he needs, and then planned to drive him home to Austin, Texas.
The PGA Tour administered 954 tests over the opening two weeks of the return — 487 last week before the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, 98 for those who took the charter flight to South Carolina and 369 on Hilton Head Island. All were negative until Watney's positive test Friday.
Watney was at the golf course — Brooks Koepka saw him in the parking lot, McIlroy chatted with him on the putting green and Si Woo Kim saw him in passing on the range — but left after getting word of his result.
Under the tour's health and safety protocols, players who are tested upon arrival are allowed to practice until the results are back, but they are not allowed in facilities including the clubhouse.
McIlroy said he was not among those who had the additional tests because they were at a distance. He didn't feel any different about the tour's return than he did before the Watney test.
"I think just statistically and looking at the numbers, someone was going to get it, and even being as careful as you can be, things happen, and you pick it up from somewhere," McIlroy said Saturday after shooting a 66. "We're still in the middle of a pandemic. I think we've done really well to start golf again and get back up and play golf tournaments. I don't think anyone was blind to the fact that someone could catch the virus, and it's a shame that Nick did.
"It's one case. And as long as it's contained to that and we move forward, we can keep playing."
What led Watney to report symptoms, McIlroy said, was data on his Whoop strap that measures such metrics as workouts, sleep and recovery.
"They've done studies where if your respirator rate goes up during the night by more than two breaths per minute, that's sort of a telltale sign you might have something," McIlroy said. "So it was his Whoop that told him his respirator rate went up, and that's why he thought, 'Maybe I could have it.'"
Watney missed the cut last week in the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, then drove home to Austin before flying to South Carolina with Sergio Garcia, who also lives in Austin.
Garcia also was tested again Friday and said he was nervous waiting four-plus hours for the result. He said Watney apologized to him "probably 25 times" and that in his text exchanges, Watney said he is feeling fine.
Taylor said he spent he spent Friday evening watching television reports about the various sports coping with positive tests, whether it was Clemson's football team or Major League Baseball spring training sites.
"It's eye-opening to see how much the virus is out there and how careful we have to be," Taylor said. "I felt like coming in the last week everyone was super careful, and then we got here, and the vibe on the island is a little more relaxed. I feel like we might have gotten a little more relaxed, too. Everyone has kind of ratcheted it up a little bit. Not hanging out with too many people, hanging with too many guys, stay out of restaurants and bars and those things.
"I think if we do that, we should be safe. We've all got to keep that in the back of our mind and just be smart."
The PGA Tour heads to Cromwell, Connecticut, next week, followed by Detroit and then back-to-back tournaments at the same site in Ohio.
"We've got to see what happens," Koepka said. "It's unfortunate Nick got it, but at the same time, hopefully, it stays with just him and doesn't spread. Because I think we'll have a big issue on our hands if it keeps going as the weeks continue."