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Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm will miss Olympics after coronavirus test results

The Tokyo Olympics ended for Jon Rahm, the world’s top-ranked golfer, after his second coronavirus issue in less than two months. (Gregory Bull/Associated Press)
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Golf got a second life in the Olympics five years ago in the Rio de Janeiro Games, and its lease was renewed for Tokyo, with the sport drawing some of its biggest names for competition that would merit prime-time coverage in the United States.

But Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm, two of the top six players in the world and among the most recognized athletes in the Games, were forced to withdraw Sunday because of coronavirus issues — a stunning double whammy that took place within hours.

Rahm, the world’s top-ranked golfer, twice tested negative after he finished third in the British Open this month, according to the International Golf Federation. But a third test required as he left England delivered a different finding.

For entrance to Japan and the Olympics, negative test results — but not vaccinations — are required. DeChambeau, ranked sixth in the world, was the first to hear the news Sunday. He was replaced by Patrick Reed, who joins Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele on Team USA.

“I am deeply disappointed not to be able to compete in the Olympics for Team USA,” DeChambeau said in a statement. “Representing my country means the world to me, and it was a tremendous honor to make this team. I wish Team USA the best of luck next week in Tokyo. I will now focus on getting healthy, and I look forward to returning to competition once I am cleared to do so.”

Spain will not replace Rahm, which leaves only Adri Arnaus on its men’s team. Play in the men’s event begins Thursday at Kasumigaseki Country Club just outside Tokyo. As of Sunday, 137 people connected to the Games and in Japan had tested positive for the coronavirus, including at least 13 athletes. DeChambeau and Rahm were not included in that number because they were not in Japan.

“I am so excited to have the opportunity to represent our country and be a part of Team USA in Tokyo,” Reed, who finished in a tie for 11th in the 2016 Rio Games, said via Golf Digest. “I wish Bryson nothing but the best, and I know how disappointed he is to not be able to compete, and I will do my best to play my best and represent our country.”

Rahm has now had his plans twice interrupted by the virus. He was forced to tearfully leave the Memorial in early June, when, with a six-stroke lead after the third round, he was pulled from the course as news of a positive test result was broken to him on national TV. He had been in a tracing protocol because of contact with someone who had tested positive and had received the second vaccine dose before the Memorial but had not cleared the two-week window for it to take full effect.

“Looking back on it, yeah, I guess I wish I would have done it [been vaccinated] earlier,” he said before the U.S. Open in June, “but thinking on scheduling purposes and having the PGA [Championship] and defending the Memorial, to be honest, it wasn’t on my mind. I’m not going to lie. I was trying to just get ready for a golf tournament. If I had done it a few days earlier, probably we wouldn’t be having these conversations right now, but it is what it is. We move on.”

Before the U.S. Open, he felt well covered. “I’ve got it all. I had it, I got the antibodies, got the vaccination,” he said then. “I feel invincible at this point.”