Dustin Johnson is back after missing two tournaments due to testing positive for COVID-19. After dealing with the coronavirus, quarantining in a hotel for 11 days and getting back to practice only last week, the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world found one silver lining.
“The only good thing that came out of this is I know I’m playing next week at the Masters,” Johnson said Wednesday during a pre-tournament interview for this week’s Vivint Houston Open.
Johnson, who last played at the U.S. Open in September, had planned to play the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas followed by the Zozo Championship at Sherwood.
But he tested positive in Las Vegas after he felt symptoms, causing him to miss consecutive events. Because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deems him to no longer be contagious, Johnson was not required to take a COVID-19 test this week and won’t need to do so in advance of the Masters either.
“I would be nervous, for sure,” Johnson said of players having to test before the Masters to play in the tournament. “It’s one of those things where, because I had no idea where I got it from, obviously I thought about it and tried to figure it out.
“I had every person that I had been around — people that have been in my house, any person that I would come in contact with, my friends, family, people that work for me — every single one of them got tested. Not Paulina [Gretzky, his partner], the kids, everybody, not one person had it.
“The only thing I can figure is I got it in Vegas just from — I don’t even know how I got it there, but that’s the only place I could have got it because not one person I was around had it. And nobody got it from me either.”
Johnson originally tested negative when he arrived in Las Vegas on Oct. 11. But later that day, he began to feel symptoms, was retested and was positive. That meant he had to withdraw from the CJ Cup and quarantine for 11 days — at the PGA Tour’s expense.
“I felt like I had a cold for a few days, and then after that I didn’t, so I was pretty much asymptomatic,” Johnson said. “A little fatigue and things like that, but I couldn’t really figure out if that was because I was stuck in a hotel room for like 11 days not doing anything or it was COVID that made me feel that way. I didn’t leave the room for 11 days. I was just laying around, kind of doing nothing.
“It was one of those things I was, like, waiting to get sick because you know you have it and you’re sitting there. But for me it was very mild, and obviously I’m very thankful for that.
“It definitely puts a wrench in your plans on what you were trying to do. Obviously I was planning on playing Shadow Creek and Sherwood, those two events. I had a lot more time off than I was planning on.”
Johnson said he did not begin hitting balls again until last week. Before the illness, he was one of the hottest players in the world.
He has won two regular events and the Tour Championship since the return of golf in June and has six top-six finishes in his past nine starts. He tied for sixth in his last appearance, at the U.S. Open.