Hideki Matsuyama, Bubba Watson Among Early Withdrawals

Here’s one tip for placing bets for this week’s Open Championship: Make sure your picks are actually competing.

With heightened travel restrictions and COVID-19 protocols in place, 13 players have already been forced to withdraw from the year’s final major or decided not to play.

That number could increase as the week continues, as well.

On Sunday, it was announced that Hideki Matsuyama, who tested positive on July 2 and withdrew from the Rocket Mortgage Classic, had similarly withdrawn from The Open, citing an inability to properly prepare for the event after his diagnosis.

Not long after that news, Bubba Watson took to social media and explained that due to contact tracing, he had withdrawn after direct exposure to someone who’d tested positive.

“While I am vaccinated and have passed the required pre-travel COVID test,” he tweeted, “not enough time has passed for me to comfortably join the charter flight and risk exposure to the other players and personnel on board.”

Kevin Na, who finished in a share of second place at the John Deere Classic, elected to relinquish his spot in the field due to the international travel requirements. Ryan Moore, who qualified for also finishing runner-up, similarly decided to pass on the opportunity.

Not all withdrawals have occurred due to COVID restrictions and/or travel, though.

Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim have each chosen to instead prepare for the upcoming Olympics, knowing that a medal would release them from two years of otherwise required military duty in their home country of South Korea.

Cameron Davis, who won the Rocket Mortgage, didn’t own the proper visa to make the trip.

K.H. Lee is awaiting the birth of his child.

Matthew Wolff and Danny Lee, each of whom withdrew last week, didn’t offer a reason.

There are also a few former champions who have decided to skip this week’s proceedings, including David Duval, exactly 20 years after his lone major championship victory.

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