Gut-wrenching moment PGA golfer, in lead, forced to withdraw on 18th hole after positive test for Covid-19

Golfer Jon Rahm was forced to withdraw from the PGA Memorial Tournament on Saturday after testing positive for COVID-19.

Holding a 6-stroke lead at Muirfield Village Golf Club, in Dublin, Ohio, Rahm was well on his way toward winning the tournament but never got to play in the final round.

The 26-year-old golfer was reportedly 100% asymptomatic and was informed of the heartbreaking news as he walked off the 18th green on Saturday. The gut-wrenching moment was captured on video.

The PGA Tour’s medical director, Dr. Tom Hospel, met Rahm at the end of the third round and told him he had tested positive for the virus and would have to withdraw from the tournament with one day remaining, per Tour protocols, Golf.com reported,

“Oh my God, not again,” Rahm is heard saying, as he doubled over in despair.

The website said Rahm was told last Monday that he was subject to contact-tracing protocols because he had come in close contact with a person with COVID-19. He was given the option “to remain in the competition and enter our tracing protocol, which includes daily testing and restricted access to indoor facilities,” the Tour explained in a statement.

On Saturday, the testing returned a positive finding.

Andy Levinson, the Tour’s senior vice president of tournament administration said that even though Rahm could have tested again Sunday, he still would not have been allowed to play.

“The CDC’s protocol regarding asymptomatic positives is that they can get — if they can get two negative PCR test results spaced a minimum of 24 hours apart, then they can come out of isolation early,” Levinson said, according to Golf.com. “But they need to —  those tests do need to be a minimum of 24 hours apart. And we have followed those guidelines since the beginning.”

Rahm released a statement later in the day Saturday, having had time to compose himself.

“I’m very disappointed in having to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament. 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,” the golfer said. “I’m very thankful that my family and I are all 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 of the fans for their support and I’m looking forward to watching the showdown tomorrow afternoon with you all.”

The winning purse for the Memorial Tournament was $1,674,000, with $1,013,700 for the runner-up, although Rahm will receive a stipend.

“There is a stipend program for players to assist them with lost earnings and potential costs of isolation and so forth,” Levinson said.

It’s not clear whether Rahm has been vaccinated or not.

“I can’t speak to Jon’s vaccination status,” he added. “That’s an individual situation.”

When asked if Rahm would have to have tested every day like he did if he had been vaccinated, Levinson replied: “Not necessarily. If someone had been fully vaccinated, and fully vaccinated under our protocol is, and it’s defined by the CDC, is 14 days past the full cycle of a vaccination. They do not have to test as a result of being a close contact.”

Eventual winner Patrick Cantlay, one of Rahm’s playing partners, was somber about the course of events that led to his fortune — he did acknowledge that he has not been vaccinated.

“Such a weird situation and very unfortunate,” he said. “(Rahm) played so amazing the first three rounds that the way I felt Sunday morning was obviously a lot different than I felt walking off the 18th green on Saturday.”

“Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do except reset and just take the new paradigm and run with it,” Cantlay continued. “I thought I did a good job of staying focused.”

There were plenty of folks who speculated about Rahm’s vaccination status, saying he had only himself to blame, there were just as many who felt that he should have been allowed to finish.

Here’s a sampling of a few of those views from Twitter:

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Tom Tillison

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