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In a single moment, a dream tournament turned into a nightmare for Jon Rahm.
The world No. 3 golfer was forced to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament on Saturday after testing positive for COVID-19. He was informed of the positive test on air immediately after the third round, in which he had built up a commanding six-stroke lead.
The golfer was in tears after getting the news on live television:
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
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) June 5, 2021
The PGA Tour officially announced the decision minutes later, saying that Rahm had tested negative every day of the tournament after coming into close contact with a person who had tested positive for COVID-19. Rahm's test taken on Friday after the second round, however, returned positive while he was on the course.
A second test of the original sample also turned up positive, leading to Rahm's withdrawal from the tournament. The Tour called it "an incredibly unfortunate situation."
PGA TOUR Statement on Jon Rahm pic.twitter.com/HvMmWLCHeq
— PGA TOUR Communications (@PGATOURComms) June 5, 2021
Had Rahm stayed in the tournament and held onto his lead, he would have won a $1.67 million prize for first place.
Jon Rahm: 'One of those things that happens in life'
While visibly emotional exiting the course, Rahm posted a statement hours later lamenting the situation, but saying he is happy he and his family are OK:
Thoughts after today’s round pic.twitter.com/gWkBAWE42F
— Jon Rahm Rodriguez (@JonRahmpga) June 6, 2021
At the time of his withdrawal, Rahm was 18-under for the tournament and six strokes ahead of Collin Morikawa and Patrick Cantlay for the lead. Morikawa and Cantlay are now the co-leaders at 12-under.
Rahm, the tournament's defending champion, had dominated all week, with a hole-in-one during the second round and a tournament-record 64 on Saturday. He was well-positioned to break the tournament's 72-hole record of 20-under, but will now enter isolation.
Was Rahm vaccinated?
Looming over the situation was the question of whether or not Rahm had been vaccinated at the time of his forced withdrawal. No answer had been confirmed, until a couple hours after Rahm's exit.
Per Jason Sobel of The Action Network, Rahm had been vaccinated, but only after coming into close contact with the infected person this week, meaning his immunity had not yet been adequately built up:
From what I'm now hearing, Jon Rahm just this week received his first vaccination shot on-site at Muirfield Village, but only after he'd come in close contact with a person who had tested positive, which is why he was initially entered into the COVID protocol.
— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelTAN) June 5, 2021
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