Player and caddie kicked off Tour event for breaching Covid rules
The European Tour had promised to get tough if any of its strict Covid-19 protocols were breached, and it was true to its word when it kicked American pro John Catlin and his caddie out of this week’s English Championship at Hanbury Manor.
Catlin and Nathan Mulrooney visited a local restaurant in Hertfordshire on Tuesday evening outside the tournament bubble, and when it was discovered, the punishment was immediate. They were withdrawn from the event, the third since the circuit restarted last month with its six-strong “UK Swing”.
“I apologise to my fellow players and everyone involved with the tournament this week for this error of judgment,” Catlin, the world No 242, said in a statement. “I understand the European Tour’s decision and accept the sanction.”
In contrast with the PGA Tour, on which players and caddies are free to stay where they please and go out where they please while at a tournament, the European Tour insists on everyone in the “bubble” – players, caddies, support staff and media – staying at a designated hotel and not leaving unless to travel to and from the course. The rigidity of the regime is one of the reasons why the Government allowed the Tour dispensation for players arriving from overseas to be exempt from the quarantine restrictions.
It is not for everyone, as Andrew “Beef ” Johnston highlighted when withdrawing after nine holes of the British Masters, the Tour’s first event back after a four-month hiatus, two weeks ago.
“Being here and being confined to the hotel, confined to the course… is ultimately not what I want at this moment and not how I want to live my life,” Johnston said in Newcastle.
Catlin, 29, played in last week’s Hero Open at the Forest of Arden.
Officials said Catlin and Mulrooney had “compromised the Tour’s health guidelines”.
Catlin’s place in today’s first round has been taken by South African Wilco Nienaber.