DUBLIN, Ohio — Jon Rahm walked off the 18th green at the Memorial after tying the 54-hole record and building a six-shot lead, leaving him on the cusp of joining Tiger Woods as the only repeat winners.
Moments later, he doubled over and said in anguish, “Not again!”
Rahm was notified he tested positive for the coronavirus, knocking him out of the tournament.
The PGA Tour said the Spaniard had come in close contact with a person who was COVID-19 positive, meaning he could play provided he was tested daily. Every test came back negative except the one after his second round that was completed Saturday morning.
Per the PGA Tour’s health and safety plan, Rahm was allowed to remain in the tournament with the stipulation that he be tested every day and was restricted from using indoor facilities, such as the clubhouse and locker room.
Rahm, 26, had tested negative every day, but his most recent test — performed following the conclusion of his rain-delayed second round on Saturday morning and before the start of his third round in the afternoon — returned a positive result at 4:20 p.m. local time, while he was still on the course. A PGA Tour medical advisor requested a confirmatory test on the original sample, which came back positive at 6:05 p.m., just as Rahm was finishing his third round.
“It’s a very unfortunate situation, obviously,” said Andy Levinson, the PGA Tour’s senior vice president of tournament administration. “The protocol that we have had in place for the last 50 events is being followed to the letter and unfortunately we are in a situation where we are this evening.”
Rahm, the winner of five PGA Tour events, is asymptomatic. He is required to isolate for 10 days unless he is negative on two COVID-19 tests 24 hours apart. That puts him in isolation until June 15, two days before the start of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, where Rahm won the 2017 PGA Tour event.
Levinson would not disclose whether Rahm had received the COVID-19 vaccine. But under tour protocols that align with CDC guidelines, players who are fully vaccinated are no longer subject to weekly testing; Levinson also said that vaccinated players would not be subject to the contact tracing that Rahm was part of this week.
Levinson said Rahm was taking part in social distancing measures during the tournament. The PGA Tour said Saturday night that all those who had been in contact with Rahm — including Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele and their caddies — were cleared through contact tracing protocols to proceed in the tournament.
“I’m 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,” Rahm said in a Twitter post Saturday evening. “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.
“Thank you to all of the fans for their support and I’m looking forward to watching the showdown tomorrow afternoon with you all.”
The positive test was confirmed, the results returned as he was on the 18th green. Rahm was been asymptomatic all week.
With a victory, Rahm could have moved closer to recapturing No. 1 in the world, along with earning over $1.67 million.
“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.