2015 champion Zach Johnson tests positive for COVID-19, out of The Open golf tournament

SANDWICH, England -- A potential disaster at The Open was avoided when Zach Johnson's positive COVID-19 test came back before he boarded a charter flight with players, managers and caddies bound for England at this week's tournament at Royal St. George's.

Johnson, 45, a two-time major championship winner including the 2015 Open, was tested following the final round of the John Deere Classic on Sunday, as were the other players and any others scheduled to make the trip.

All were given rapid-result PCR tests that came back in 90 minutes. Johnson, who tied for 34th in the John Deere Classic, tested positive and withdrew from The Open.

Johnson expressed his disappointment in a Twitter post on Monday.

Because of close-contact rules implemented in the United Kingdom that are part of The Open's protocols, any of the other players on the flight would have been subject to removal from the tournament had Johnson traveled to and tested positive in England.

The John Deere Classic had 16 players from its field on the flight that was scheduled to land Monday morning.

Johnson was asked last week about the strict rules in place for The Open.

"The way I see it, quite honestly, it's like the current situation here with the exception of the six time zones, is that I'm going to take a test here before I go, God willing it's negative, and when I go over there, I guess I'll be tested again,'' he said. "Again, my guess is, and I think it's a pretty fair guess, that they're looking out for the betterment of the whole and not just us players. It's kind of what I do each and every week anyway, and that's fine.''

Johnson was replaced in the field by England's Sam Horsfield based on a reserve list taken from the Official World Golf Ranking.

Ryan Moore, who qualified for The Open based on his tie for second at the John Deere, declined his spot and was replaced in the field by Adam Long. Another player, Louis de Jager of South Africa, tested positive and was replaced by Dylan Frittelli.

For various reasons, several related to COVID-19 testing and travel protocols, 16 players have either opted out or withdrawn from The Open, which begins Thursday.