The news played out on live TV, with Rahm putting his hands over his face and doubling over as he received the news, adding, “Not again.” It was not clear exactly what he meant and he returned to an upright position, then walked off the course. CBS’s Jim Nantz was as mystified as viewers as the scene played out.
“I’m very disappointed in having to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament,” Rahm later said in a statement posted to Twitter. “This is one of those things that happens in life, one of those moments where how we respond to a setback defines us as people. I’m very thankful that my family and I are all OK. I will take all of the necessary precautions to be safe and healthy, and I look forward to returning to the golf course as soon as possible.”
It is unclear whether Rahm had been fully vaccinated and the diagnosis throws his availability for the U.S. Open, which begins June 17 at Torrey Pines in California, in question. Protocol requires that he remain in isolation through June 15, the PGA Tour said, adding that he is asymptomatic.
Rahm, who is from Spain, has spoken often about that country’s struggles to control the spread of the virus. He lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., with his wife, Kelley, whom he met while they were students at Arizona State, and their 2-month-old son.
With Rahm out of the Memorial, Collin Morikawa and Patrick Cantlay moved into the lead for Sunday’s final round at 12 under par.
“It’s kind of the worst situation for something like that to happen and he played awesome today, and it’s just, it’s really a shame,” Cantlay said.
Cantlay was among those stunned by the turn of events.
“I’m sure it’s not as much of a jolt for me as it is for him,” he told reporters. “It’s the worst situation that something like this could happen in, and unfortunately I guess we knew that this was a potential lurking out there even when we came back to golf. It’s just extremely unfortunate.”
Scottie Scheffler, who enters Sunday in a tie for third three strokes behind Cantlay and Morikawa, was as confused as anyone when he ran into Rahm in the scoring tent.
“I kind of smiled at him thinking: ‘Why? What happened?’ ” Scheffler told reporters. “He just goes, ‘Good luck tomorrow.’ ”
Then Rahm told him the news.
“My heart just sank, it’s terrible that that happened,” added Scheffler, who has also had covid-19. “My heart is still — it just sinks for him and I feel awful.”
Jack Nicklaus, who designed the course and is host of the Memorial, tweeted, “Our hearts go out to Jon and his family as well as all the patrons who witnessed a spectacular round by Jon — only to be negated by this horrible pandemic our world continues to endure.”
The 81-year-old Nicklaus and his wife contracted covid-19 last year, and he wished Rahm “a speedy recovery and hope he gets back to competition soon.”
Because of the pandemic, the PGA of America had a capacity cap of 10,000 fans per day at last month’s PGA Championship. The PGA Tour recently relaxed coronavirus protocols for vaccinated players.
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