Jon Rahm returns to the site of his first PGA Tour win this week and is the betting favorite entering this week’s US Open at Torrey Pines.
Rahm’s return to Torrey almost didn’t happen, as a positive COVID test forced him to withdraw from the Memorial after a Saturday 64 gave him a six-shot lead through 54 holes.
The Spaniard returned home to Scottsdale after withdrawing but remained in isolation at home for nearly a week. His isolation period was supposed to last 10 days, which meant Rahm wouldn’t arrive at Torrey Pines until Tuesday night, but he was able to travel to San Diego after receiving two consecutive negative tests on Friday and Saturday.
The quarantine forced Rahm to go just over a week without touching a club -- a less than ideal situation for a guy trying to win his first major -- but Rahm continues to draw on his previous experience at Torrey Pines and his solid form this season.
“When you don't hit a golf shot for just over a week or just about a week, it's tough leading into a major, especially a US Open,” Rahm said. “I'm confident I can get in form quick enough. I still have two more days. I still have the memory of all those great golf shots I played. I'm going to choose to remember that.”
Rahm said he was aware of the controversy that took place following the ruling, but said he tried to stay away from it as much as possible. When asked if he thought the Tour made the right decision, the world No. 3 said the policy was enforced correctly.
“The PGA Tour did what they had to do. I've heard a lot of different theories: I should have played alone, I shouldn't have (been forced to withdraw). That's nonsense,” Rahm said. “The rules are there, and it's clear. I'm not going to lie, I was fully aware when I was in tracing protocol that that was a possibility. I knew that could happen. I was hoping it wouldn't. I was playing like it's not going to, but I support what the PGA Tour did.”
Despite his past success, Rahm is expecting to see a much more difficult Torrey Pines this week. Rahm referenced the thicker rough you would expect to see at a US Open, but pointed to the speed and firmness of the greens as the biggest difference.
“When we play early in the year, usually you can hit anything at the pin,” Rahm said. “It's going to land and stop wherever it lands. That's why you can get some scoring opportunities, and you've seen some low ones in the past. With this firmness, I don't think it's going to happen.”
After all the controversy surrounding his vaccination status before his withdrawal, and the Tour saying that just more than 50 percent of players have been fully vaccinated, Rahm urged his fellow competitors to get the vaccine.
“I mean, we live in a free country, so do as you please,” Rahm said. “I can tell you from experience that, if something happens, you're going to have to live with the consequences golf-wise. If we want to go back to having a normal life and normal Tour events and try to go back to normality as early as possible, people should get vaccinated.”