Jon Rahm forced to withdraw from Memorial Tournament with six-shot lead after positive COVID-19 test
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Jon Rahm forced to withdraw from Memorial Tournament with six-shot lead after positive COVID-19 test

Jon Rahm withdrew from the 2021 Memorial Tournament on Saturday, just minutes after wrapping up a third round that saw him carry a six-shot lead over his nearest challengers at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.

A pair of PGA Tour officials approached Rahm immediately after he finished his Saturday round of 8-under 64, notifying him that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Per PGA Tour protocol, any player testing positive for COVID-19 during a tournament has to immediately withdraw and enter into quarantine in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rahm had set the event's 54-hole scoring record at 18-under 198.

Rahm, who is not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, entered into a track of the PGA Tour's testing protocol because he recently came into contact with someone who tested positive. The Tour notified Rahm of his contact on May 31, giving him the option of withdrawing from Memorial or competing in the event while being subject to daily testing and having restricted access to indoor facilities.

After having tested negative each day of the tournament week, Rahm was tested following the completion of his second round on Saturday morning. That test came back positive at 4:20 p.m. Eastern. The Tour's protocols require them to run a second test immediately to confirm the positive. The second test returned positive at 6:05 p.m. There was not enough time to notify Rahm before the round ended, and Rahm was told at the 18th green to ensure he could put on a mask and exit the property without exposing others.

Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo, the lead announcers for CBS Sports, were not notified ahead of time of what the Tour was about to tell Rahm, who doubled over to his knees and said, "Not again!" During last year's COVID-delayed Memorial Tournament, which Rahm won, the Spaniard was told after the 72nd hole that he could be penalized for his ball moving during a chip shot on the 70th hole of the event. He was penalized and still won.

Rahm will have to quarantine for 10 days, until June 15, during the week of the US Open. However, if Rahm subsequently returns two negative tests in a 24-hour span, he can break quarantine early and then fly to the San Diego area for the year's third major at Torrey Pines. Were Rahm to need to quarantine the full 10 days, he would have limited opportunity to prep for an event played this year on a regular PGA Tour host -- an event he's won.

With a six-shot lead through three rounds, Rahm was as close as there was as close as there is to a lock to win the Memorial for a second-consecutive year. Instead, joint second-place players Collin Morikawa and Patrick Cantlay, both past winners at Muirfield Village, are set to start Sunday with the lead on 12-under 204 and play in the final group together. However, their participation, as well that of Scottie Scheffler, who played with Rahm in Saturday's third-round, and Xander Schauffele, who played with Rahm and Morikawa in the morning second-round conclusion, is dependent upon the PGA Tour's contact-tracing measures and determining if those players need to be tested as well.

After the third round, Cantlay said he already had COVID-19 and presumed he had antibodies. Scheffler, too, said he had COVID-19, but he declined to say if he's since been vaccinated. The PGA Tour's Andy Levinson said more than half of the Tour's players are vaccinated.

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