Rahm’s Raw Deal Jon Rahm arrived in Columbus on Monday for The Memorial knowing he had been in recent contact with someone who just tested positive for Covid-19. He alerted the tour and the event officials, and they administered a test…every single morning. And every single morning the test results showed negative. At the conclusion of his rain-delayed 2nd round Saturday morning, he took another test. At 4:20pm that test showed positive while Rahm was on the course for his 3rd round. The tour requested a reconfirmation and tested it again, which also came back positive just after 6:00 as Rahm was finishing his round.
The tour followed the same protocol that’s been in place for 50 weeks, as Rahm is asymptomatic. He was allowed to remain in the field as long as he tested negative every day and stayed out of any indoor facilities like the locker room and clubhouse. The tour would not disclose whether he has received the vaccine but it is unlikely as the CDC and PGA Tour no longer require weekly testing of vaccinated players. But once a positive result hit twice, he was forced to withdraw from the tournament he was leading.
As Rahm’s test was ringing positive during the 3rd round, he was building a 6 shot lead with a new putter in the bag. He switched from an Odyssey 2-Ball Ten to a Rossie mallet with no alignment lines or markings. He had been struggling from the 8-10 foot range but the switch helped him lead the field by 1.5 in strokes gained putting.
Rahm was given the horrible news at the conclusion of his 3rd round and he was rightfully frustrated and irritated. Tournament host Jack Nicklaus was quoted in saying that the situation saddened him but that Rahm was very respectful and took the news with class. And just like that Patrick Cantalay and Collin Morikawa were tied for the lead at -12. Morikawa, Cantalay, Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, and their caddies all had contact with Rahm but were allowed to continue in the tournament due to the tour’s contact tracing protocols.
The argument here is why couldn’t Rahm be allowed to play solo or go out first? Tour officials said that there are protocols and policies that wouldn’t allow that to happen. And how do you go about and arrange that without it feeling like Rahm is getting special treatment? The PGA Tour has estimated that half the tour has been vaccinated. It’s obvious that Jon Rahm hasn’t been due to the way it was handled. People are talking about an asterisk* next to Morikawa’s name as the winner since it’s clear he had a huge advantage with Rahm’s 6-stroke lead vanishing. But that’s bogus. Wouldn’t the real asterisk* be next to Rahm if he went out first as the leader, by himself, and won without the Sunday pressure of closing in the heat of the battle with his playing competitors during the same conditions? I hate that this happened but if the tour had a policy and rules in place for this very situation, it would look way worse if they went against it.
Rahmbo was putting together an epic week on his way to his 6th career win. He made a hole-in-one on #16 during his 2nd round 65 and tied Tiger Woods with the tournament’s largest 54 hole lead. He will now be forced to quarantine for 10 days which will put him in isolation until 2 days before the US Open begins at Torrey Pines, where he will no doubt be a favorite. He can break isolation if he has 2 negative tests within 24 hours. In the meantime, time for a disguise to get to the range and stay sharp for the season’s third major on a course he won on in 2017.
Xander Switches Putter in Spite Jon Rahm wasn’t the only player to switch to a new flat stick at Memorial. Xander Schauffele has been vocal that he is against armlock putters and is for them being banned. But if you can’t beat ‘em…join ‘em. This isn’t the only reason the switch is surprising. It’s not like Xander was struggling on the greens. He ranks 9th on tour in strokes gained putting. “My whole team honestly was against the change but I just had to see what the craze is about,” said Xander. “It’s a distinct advantage so I might as well do the same.” He went on to say he works a lot on start lines when it comes to putting and the armlock technique starts the ball online with more efficiency. Schauffele set a loft goal of finishing 2021 ranked 1st in putting. It would be quite strange if he got there by way of a method that he’d like to see banned.
Xander’s New Putter Specs:
Odyssey Wrist Lock #7
Lexi Lost It Lexi Thompson plays golf with the weight of the world’s expectations on her shoulders. Ever since she won her first pro event at age 16 and qualified for her first US Open at 12, greatness is always assumed to occur whenever she tees it up near the lead. Greatness did appear in a near flawless 66 on Saturday at a brutally difficult Olympic Club. And near the end of the front 9 Sunday, she held a 5-stroke lead. But on 18 she missed a must make par putt to get into a playoff and signed her card for a back-nine 41; a heartbreaking end to her pursuit of a second major win. Her undoing came at #11 with a double-bogey, and suddenly she couldn’t find a fairway nor make a putt, and quickly the rest of the field was back in the mix.
During Lexi’s misfortunes, Yuka Saso and Nasa Hataoka were doing the complete opposite on the same holes. Saso birdied 16 and 17 to get to -4 and Hataoka birdied 3 of her final 6 holes to also post -4. “I really didn’t feel like I was hitting that bad of shots. But that’s what this course can do to you sometimes,” Thompson mentioned in her post round interview. “But I’m in a good place and have been focusing on the positives. I have a tournament next week and I’m looking forward to that.” Lexi does share something with Arnold Palmer, but not exactly something you’d want to have in common with The King. Arnie lost a 7-shot lead to Billy Casper on the back 9 at Olympic in 1966.
From one teen sensation to another, Yuka Saso became the 2nd teenager to win the US Women’s Open at 19 years old. She defeated Nasa Hataoka in a sudden death playoff. It shouldn’t be a huge surprise as she finished T-13 in the Open last year and has modeled her swing after Rory McIlroy. Her and Rors now have a USGA trophy in common as well.
Enjoy the game and each other,
Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional