Johnson tests positive for COVID,
withdraws from British Open
SANDWICH, England — Former champion Zach Johnson tested positive for the coronavirus before getting on a charter flight to the British Open, forcing him to join the growing list of withdrawals and ending his streak at playing 69 consecutive majors.
The R&A said Johnson, who played in the John Deere Classic in Illinois on Sunday, and local qualifier Louis de Jager of South Africa had positive COVID-19 tests and withdrew.
Ryan Moore, runner-up at the John Deere Classic, chose not to accept the exemption as the highest finisher among the top five who wasn’t already in the British Open. Instead of the spot going to Luke List, who tied for third, it went to Adam Long as next available on the reserve list.
Johnson, who won the claret jug at St. Andrews in 2015 after a three-way playoff, missed the Masters in his rookie year on the PGA Tour in 2004. He played in every major since then until the British Open.
Players at the John Deere were tested before the charter flight to England.
That brings to 16 the number of players who have withdrawn or chosen not to take their spots in the field for the 149th edition of golf’s oldest championship.
The British Open was the only major to be canceled last year because of the pandemic. It returns under strict protocols by the UK government, and some instituted by the R&A, such as prohibiting players from staying with anyone except their own small core of people.
Johnson did not play the third or fourth round with any other player who is at the British Open.
The latest players to withdraw were replaced by Long, Sam Horsfield of England and Dylan Frittelli of South Africa.
The field already is missing seven players from the top 75 in the world, unusual for a major.
Some had no choice. Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama at No. 18 was the highest-ranked player to withdraw. He had a positive COVID-19 test on July 2 during the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and while he has gone through 10 days of self-isolation without symptoms, his tests keep coming back positive.
The PGA Tour had this issue a year ago with positive tests. U.S. health officials said PCR tests can pick up remnants of the virus even though it is no longer active. But under UK guidelines, Matsuyama would need to produce a negative test.
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson said he came in contact with a person who had a positive COVID-19 test and withdrew. Under the R&A requirements sent to players on June 22, anyone who is identified as a contact has to self-isolate and be withdrawn.
Other players cited international travel requirements (Kevin Na) or an emphasis on preparing instead for the Olympics (Sungjae Im, Siwoo Kim, Juvic Pagunsan). The men’s competition in the Tokyo Olympics starts 11 days after the British Open ends.
Prosecutor to review goalie’s death
NOVI, Mich. — Police in Michigan have turned over their investigation into the fireworks death of Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks to a prosecutor for review.
The Novi Police Department has not requested charges in Kivlenieks’ Fourth of July death, Lt. Jason Meier said Monday.
“Due to the high-profile nature, we wanted an extra set of eyes (on the case),” said Meier, adding that the police investigation was complete unless otherwise directed by the Oakland County prosecutor’s office.
Kivlenieks’ death still is considered accidental, Meier said.
The 24-year-old died of chest trauma from an errant fireworks mortar blast. Police have said the firework at a private home northwest of Detroit tilted slightly and started to fire toward people nearby. Kivlenieks was in a hot tub and was trying to move out of the way of the firework when he was struck.
He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Kivlenieks most recently represented Latvia this spring at the world hockey championship in which he played four games. This past season, he played two games for the Blue Jackets and eight for the American Hockey League’s Cleveland Monsters.
A native of Riga, Latvia, Kivlenieks signed with the Blue Jackets as a free agent in May 2017 and played eight games for the club overall.
Ex-NBC analyst joins Senators FO
Pierre McGuire’s knowledge of where seemingly everyone in the NHL played pee-wee, junior or college hockey will now go to use in a setting far more private than national television.
The longtime NBC Sports analyst returned to his team front office roots Monday, joining the Ottawa Senators as senior vice president of player development.
McGuire was one of the faces of NBC Sports’ hockey coverage since 2006, often serving as the between-the-benches analyst. Before that, he worked for TSN in Canada and did color commentary for Montreal Canadiens radio broadcasts.
The 59-year-old will try to make the transition back to management as smoothly as possible, using his experience away to offer a different perspective.
McGuire’s experience is similar to when John Davidson left TV to take over as president of hockey operations for the St. Louis Blues in 2006 or even Brian Burke returning from a brief broadcasting stint to run the Pittsburgh Penguins’ hockey operations department this year. He doesn’t think there will be a big adjustment period, and advice from Davidson, now back with Columbus, and Burke should help.