The PGA Tour Leans on Whoop for Early COVID-19 Detection


Andrew Cohen

Wearable fitness company Whoop is sending more than 1,000 smart wristbands to players, caddies, media, and employees on the PGA Tour, Korn Ferry Tour and Champions Tour. The PGA Tour is hopeful that Whoop’s biometric data feedback will possibly detect early-warning signs of COVID-19 infection. 

The new distribution agreement comes after golfer Nick Watney withdrew from last week’s RBC Heritage competition in South Carolina. His Whoop device detected he had an elevated respiratory rate. Watney, who did not report feeling any illness, decided to get tested for COVID-19, which showed him to be positive for the virus. 

Five other golfers have withdrawn from competition due to coronavirus at this week’s Travelers Championship in Connecticut. Those five include Brooks Koepka and his brother, Chase, Webb Simpson, Cameron Champ, and Graeme McDowell. Out of that group, only Champ has tested positive for COVID-19. The rest dropped out because either their caddie tested positive or because they came into close contact with someone else who had.

The Whoop device and connected mobile app can measure metrics such as an individual's heart rate variability, muscle strain and recovery, and quality of sleep. The company claims that its respiratory rate metric, which tracks how many breaths a user takes per minute, could indicate when a person is dealing with respiratory illness such as COVID-19, if their respiratory rate fluctuates more than normal.

Some PGA Tour players already wear Whoop bands on the golf course, including stars Justin Thomas and Rory Mcilroy. Both Mcilroy and Thomas have existing relationships with Whoop as brand ambassadors. Investors in Whoop include NBA superstar Kevin Durant and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

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