Golf: Jon Rahm withdraws from Memorial Tournament with six-stroke lead after positive COVID-19 test

Jon Rahm reacts as he walks off the 18th green after completing his third round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield
Jon Rahm reacts as he walks off the 18th green after completing his third round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Image Credit: AFP

Jon Rahm, a popular player on the PGA Tour and the world’s third-ranked male golfer, had just charged to a six-stroke lead Saturday in the third round of the Memorial Tournament, an event he won a year ago. Walking from the 18th hole, where a crowd showered him with applause, Rahm, 26, shook hands with his playing partners and smiled.

Seconds later, he was doubled over and in tears, his left hand clasping his face. A doctor for the tour had met Rahm at the edge of the green and informed him that he had tested positive for COVID-19, a result reported to the tour as Rahm was shooting a sparkling 8-under-par 64 at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Rahm would be forced to withdraw from the tournament and miss the final round on Sunday.

Rahm hid his face in his hands for a few moments, then stood upright before staggering as he began to ascend a steep hill, wiping his eyes as he made his way to the clubhouse.

Rahm later posted on Twitter, saying that he was “very disappointed in having to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament. 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.”

Jack Nicklaus, host of the Memorial tournament, wrote on Twitter: “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.”

According to the PGA Tour, Rahm was notified on Monday that he would be subject to contact tracing because he had come in close contact with an unidentified person who had tested positive for COVID-19.

Rahm’s test results were negative for four days, but his most recent test, performed Saturday morning, came back positive at 4.20pm. A second test on the original sample provided by Rahm, who was asymptomatic, yielded a positive result at 6.05pm, just before he finished his third round.