Jon Rahm‘s emotional reaction at The Memorial Tournament after learning he tested positive for COVID-19 said it all. Bending over with his head in hands, that initial response revealed his complete shock and disappointment. While being effectively kicked out of the tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus for a positive test is humiliating enough, Rahm’s reaction was also likely the realization that he would no longer receive the first-place prize money he was almost certain to win with a huge lead heading into Sunday. Losing that amount of money would make any grown man cry.
Jon Rahm won in 2020 and earned a huge payout
Jon Rahm has impressed since he made his PGA Tour professional debut in 2016. In those five years, he’s racked up five wins, including two in 2020. The 26-year-old Spaniard won the BMW Championship in August, but it was two months prior in Ohio when he established himself as the best in the world.
Rahm was the dominant golfer for the week at Muirfield Village Golf Club, and headed to the back-nine on Sunday with an eight-shot lead. However, after a weather delay, Rahm returned, but his game didn’t, at least not for the first four holes where he shot 5-over par and saw his lead dwindle down to three shots.
Rahm appeared to have rebounded with a chip-in on the 16th hole, but instead received a two-shot penalty because he soled his club and the ball moved before his shot, and he didn’t replace it. He finished the round with a 3-over 75 but still managed to hold on for the win, three shots in front of Ryan Palmer. With the win, Rahm earned a hefty $1.67 million and moved up to No. 1 in the world rankings.
Rahm aces hole and propels to lead
Jon Rahm entered the 2021 Memorial Tournament with a lot of confidence, and justifiably so after winning last year’s event. He entered this year’s event ranked No. 3.
He opened on Thursday with a solid 3-under par round of 69, but it was Friday where he made headlines for his stellar round and one shot in particular. It came on the storied 16th hole, where the Spaniard cleanly struck an 8-iron on the 183-yard par 3 that just carried the water, landed softly on the green, bounced a few times, then disappeared into the cup.
Rahm birdied the 17th and narrowly missed another on 18 and finished with an impressive 7-under 65. His round propelled him to the top of the leaderboard, two clear of the 2019 winner, Patrick Cantlay.
Forced to withdraw and surrenders a huge amount of money
On Saturday, Rahm fired an impressive 8-under 64 and carried a six-shot lead into Sunday, or so he thought. After draining his final putt, officials informed him of the positive COVID test.
“Oh my god, not again,” CBS cameras caught Rahm saying after receiving the news. He immediately began a 10-day isolation period, in accordance with CDC guidelines.
His exit also proved to be very costly. If Rahm had won on Sunday like most thought he would with a six-shot lead, he would have earned a bigger payout than last year at $1.7 million.
As the world of sports and everything else finally opens up, Rahm’s shocking departure reminds us that COVID is still very much present in our lives. Thankfully, it’s not causing as much personal pain with the loss of life as it has in the past, but as Rahm found out on Saturday, it can certainly cause tremendous heartache.