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6 Jun, 2021 11:42

‘Not again’: Golfer Jon Rahm surges into lead at US PGA Tour event before being told that he has Covid on live television (VIDEO)

‘Not again’: Golfer Jon Rahm surges into lead at US PGA Tour event before being told that he has Covid on live television (VIDEO)

Jon Rahm was close to establishing himself as the first repeat-winner of the Memorial since Tiger Woods, only to walk off the 18th green in Ohio to be told on live television that he had tested positive for Covid.

Rahm tied the course record with a stunning round of 54 on Saturday, establishing a six-shot lead in the process – but the Spanish player's delight quickly turned to frustration after he was informed that he had been eliminated from the tournament after returning a positive test for Covid-19 just moments after completing his round.

The PGA Tour was informed that Rahm had been in close contact with a confirmed case of Covid but was told that he was eligible to play as long as he returned daily negative tests.

Each of his tests throughout the week had come back negative until the test he took on Saturday morning proved positive, leading to the dramatic incident which was broadcast across the globe.

After completing the 18th in a round which included a hole in one on Saturday morning, Rahm was informed that his efforts were for nought and that he was to be struck off from the tournament – and he was seen in the footage saying "not again" to officials. 

"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," he wrote online after the dramatic incident.

"I'm very thankful that all my family and I are OK. I will take all 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 the fans for their support and I'm looking forward to watching the showdown tomorrow afternoon with you all."

PGA Tour rules dictate that vaccinated players who had passed the two-week post-jab cycle are not subject to testing for close contacts to Covid cases, with Andy Levinson, the vice-president of the tour and person who has implemented the Covid-19 safety protocols, announcing that "north of 50 percent" of players had been fully vaccinated. 

It is not clear at this point if Rahm had received a vaccination, nor did he reference doing so in his statement.

Rahm's disqualification means that Patrick Cantlay and Collin Morikawa will duel for the lead on Sunday, with both starting play at 12 under. Cantlay, though, said his thoughts were with Rahm and that the Spaniard had fully earned the lead he had established prior to his elimination.

"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," he said.

Rahm's misfortune came after one of the most consistent rounds of his career, appearing in excellent form on the back nine while wracking off six birdies in eight holes, tying the Memorial record for the largest lead after 54 holes since Tiger Woods achieved the same score 21 years ago.

Rahm, who missed the opportunity to go first in the world rankings, will now enter a period of self-isolation for 10 days.

"I feel very bad for Jon Rahm. He’s played absolutely brilliant golf this week," said Jack Nicklaus, who is the organizer of the tournament. 

"On behalf of the Memorial Tournament, 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."

Rahm is now the fourth player to test positive for Covid-19 in the midst of a tournament since the Tour returned last year, and the first asymptomatic case which was discovered as part of the contact-tracing guidelines.

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