Defending champion Jon Rahm has been forced to withdraw from the US PGA Memorial tournament following a positive Covid-19 test on Sunday morning (AEST) after having seized a six-stroke lead with a stunning third round at Muirfield Village.
Rahm had tested negative for four consecutive days only to return a positive test from a sample collected before his third round, after he made an ace at the par-3 16th in concluding his darkness-halted second round with a two-shot lead.
World number three Rahm fired an impressive eight-under par 64 in his third round, matching all-time records with an 18-under 198 score for 54 holes and a six-stroke lead at the famed Dublin, Ohio, layout.
Instead, Rahm was withdrawn and left Americans Patrick Cantlay, the 2019 Memorial winner, and Collin Morikawa, the 2020 PGA Championship winner, sharing the lead on 204.
Jon Rahm…with a 6 shot lead at Memorial…finds out AFTER HIS ROUND that he’s tested positive for COVID-19.
That means he has to withdraw. As the leader by 6…
Just unbelievable. pic.twitter.com/AqtqNA75kH
Surreal TV moment as six-stroke leader Jon Rahm learns he tested positive for COVID and Jim Nantz tries to make sense of it without knowing what Rahm's been told pic.twitter.com/WvD6LmAlxs
“It’s obviously really disappointing. It’s the worst situation for something like that to happen,” said unexpected co-leader Cantlay.
“He played awesome today and it’s just really a shame. It’s unfortunate.
“I guess we knew that this was a potential lurking out there even when we came back to golf. It’s just extremely unfortunate.”
American golfer Brooks Koepka failed to hide his frustration when Bryson DeChambeau interrupted an interview during the PGA Championship….
American golfer Brooks Koepka failed to hide his frustration when Bryson DeChambeau interrupted an interview during the PGA Championship.
The US PGA Tour said in a statement it had informed Rahm on Monday he had been in close contact with someone confirmed with Covid-19 and the 26-year-old Spaniard, who was asymptomatic, chose to compete under tighter virus safety protocols, including daily testing and restricted access to facilities.
Rahm’s Saturday test was returned as positive while Rahm was on the course in his third round, the tour said, and a second test requested by a PGA medical advisor also came back positive just before Rahm finished the third round.
Jon Rahm was on fire.Source:Getty Images
When told of the result just off the 18th green, Rahm bent forward, his head in his hands and at his knees, then rose and yelled, “Not again.” Rahm had been dazzling on the back nine with a stretch of six birdies in seven holes to stand on 18-under 198 after 54 holes and six strokes ahead in Dublin, Ohio.
Rahm had matched Tiger Woods from 2000 for the largest 54-hole lead in Memorial history. He was hoping to match Woods as the event’s only back-to-back winners.
His 198 matched Scott Hoch’s 54-hole tournament record from 1987. American Scottie Scheffler, who played alongside Rahm and Cantlay in the third round, and South African Brenden Grace shared third on 207.
“My heart, it just sinks for him. I just feel awful,” said Scheffler, who was confused by Rahm’s frustrated expression in the scorer’s room as they signed their cards.
“He was, like, ‘No, man, I just tested positive.’ My heart just sank,” Scheffler said. “It’s terrible that that happened. I think it’s terrible they told him in front of the cameras.” Cantlay said he has not been vaccinated for Covid-19.
“I’ve already had Covid, so I got to imagine I have antibodies, so I don’t feel too concerned,” Cantlay said.
“Obviously it is somewhat of a concern. I got to imagine that I had it earlier this year so I’m feeling pretty OK about it.” Scheffler would not say if he has been vaccinated or not, but noted, “We played golf outside in the sunlight and everything. I don’t feel very concerned. I had Covid in the fall and I still feel great.”
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