Bubba Watson identified as COVID-19 close contact, pulls out of The Open

Bubba Watson has withdrawn from The Open after he was identified as being a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

He has been replaced in the field by Brendan Steele.

Watson said in a statement that he is vaccinated against COVID-19 but "not enough time has passed for me to comfortably join the charter flight and risk exposure to the other players and personnel on board."

Watson's caddie, Ted Scott, tweeted that he and Watson are "gutted" by the development.

Rules for close contacts are stricter in the United Kingdom for golfers deemed to be a close contact than in the United States. Close contacts in the U.K. are forced to withdraw from tournaments. In the U.S., close contacts undergo daily testing.

Former Open champion David Duval also withdrew Sunday, bringing the number of players who had been planning to play but withdrew to 13.

The R&A did not say why Duval chose to withdraw. He won the Open Championship in 2001 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

John Catlin, a Californian who plays exclusively on the European Tour, has replaced Duval in the field.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.