Charley Hull, Britain’s No 1 female golfer, has tested positive for Covid-19 on the eve of the second major of the season. The 24-year-old has been withdrawn from the Ana Inspiration and now faces up to two weeks of self-isolation in Palm Springs, California.
Hull, who finished second in the Mission Hills feature piece four years ago, arrived on Monday and noticed her breathing was not normal.
She put it down to suffering with asthma and the fires that have ravaged parts of California, as well as the intense heat which rose as high as 49C. But the test she was required to take when getting to the site revealed she has become the highest ranked player of either gender to contract the disease.
“As part of the LPGA TOUR’s Covid-19 process, I was informed this morning that I tested positive for COVID-19 and I have withdrawn from the ANA Inspiration,” said Hull. “I didn’t feel great yesterday but I put it down to jetlag, the heat and my asthma playing up. I now realise I have some mild symptoms which feel similar to having a cold and I am self-isolating and working with Tour on contact tracing.”
Despite missing the cut at the AIG Women’s Open in Troon last month, she was confident of another big showing at the major formerly known as the Dinah Shore.
As well as her runner-up to Lydia Ko, she has recorded two other top-sixes at the event that many consider to be the female equivalent of the Masters. She was also in contention last year, eventually finishing 12th.
“I am very disappointed to have to withdraw from what is one of my favourite events of the year but wish everyone the best of luck at this week’s tournament and look forward to when I can return to playing,” she added.
LPGA protocols will require Hull to quarantine for a minimum of 10 days, the she will be reevaluated by the medical team to determine if she is cleared to return to competition. Hull is the first positive test on the LPGA Tour since it’s resumption five weeks ago.
The PGA Tour has played 14 tournaments over a period of 13 weeks starting in mid-June, conducted 3,652 on-site tests of players and caddies over that period, with seven players and four caddies testing positive. But the Tour has gone for the last five weeks without a positive test.
It is a worrying moment for the LPGA Tour – that has been forced to cancel 14 tournaments in 2020 – and an obvious setback to Hull. She will hope to recover for the next major, the Women’s PGA Championship, in five weeks’ time and then, the US Women’s Open in December. In Hull’s absence, world No 43 Bronte Law becomes the top-ranked Briton at the Ana Inspiration, with 2018 Women’s Open champion Georgia Hall also in the field.