Jon Rahm’s early exit from the Memorial Tournament in Ohio on Saturday was as inevitable as it was disappointing.
The world number three had a six shot lead after the third round when he learned his participation in the tournament was over after returning a positive Covid test.
It is one of those scenarios every golfer has dreaded happening, but was destined to take place at some point and fate has decided it is poor Jon who has to suffer the consequences.
Your first thought in that situation is for Jon, who to his credit took it in his stride. It cannot have been easy to kiss goodbye to £1.18 million which came with winning the event. Anything can happen in a final round, but he was in a very strong position.
I was hugely impressed at how well he took the news though, but I was shocked Jon was allowed to finish his round before being withdrawn from the tournament.
Jon Rahm…with a 6 shot lead at Memorial…finds out AFTER HIS ROUND that he’s tested positive for COVID-19.
That means he has to withdraw. As the leader by 6…
Just unbelievable. pic.twitter.com/AqtqNA75kH
— TJ Eckert (@TJEckertKTUL) June 5, 2021
It should not matter whether he had played the 16th, 17th or was even on the 18th green. As soon as a positive test had been confirmed, as a duty of care to those around him, he should have been taken off the course immediately.
That’s not a slight on Jon, who was oblivious to the events which were unfolding while he was playing his round, but it seems poorly handled to me. If that is what the PGA Tour protocols say is the course of action then it is something which needs to be revisited.
Due to events on the European Tour last week and the fact we were all together at the European Open in Hamburg, watching it all unfold was remarkable. I felt like I was watching a comedy of errors play out and it was the talk of the steamie among the players in Germany.
Track and trace is there to protect us all. As we’ve seen in the last 15 months, this horrible virus is fatal for some people.
I know I am taking every precaution I can to compete in a tournament. It’s not a pleasant experience being tested all the time and playing in front of no fans is not easy either, but it has to be done if we want to continue playing.
I arrived back home from Germany on Tuesday and I can tell you I was tested on Sunday while in Germany and had a PCR test upon my return.
At £100 a test it is a significant regular expense now, especially on caddies, and, to put that in perspective, in the last two weeks I’ve stayed in five hotels and had six tests.
Travelling to tournaments has been challenging at the best of times. Right now it’s even more taxing.
Hamburg deserves to be in the Ryder Cup venue debate
The logistics, not to mention the waiting game involved, in getting from Denmark to Germany for the European Open did not detract from an outstanding tournament.
What a set-up Green Eagles golf course was. We don’t play on courses as tough as that one every week and it was a true test.
It was laid out like a major with thick rough and 700yd par-fives. You had to hit a proper shot on every tee and I like that.
Congratulations to Marcus Armitage on an emotional win in a season-changing week for him. He won the event, which was great for him, but also earned a place in the US Open at Torrey Pines next week which is fantastic.
A young kid that lost his mum and lost his way, But always had a dream. Today it came true!pic.twitter.com/wg4c42LILl
— Marcus Armitage (@marcusarmitage1) June 7, 2021
As for Green Eagles? Well, I’ll certainly be back. Every time I play there the challenge is something new. For me, when the discussion about future Ryder Cup venues in Europe next takes place, the venue is certainly worthy of being in the debate.
Golf League idea does not sound Premier to me
After months, if not years of it being mooted, it seems a rival to the main professional golf tours is finally about to rear its head.
I was unaware of the plans to launch the Premier Golf League until I arrived back home on Tuesday and ,for those who haven’t heard, it is a proposed Formula One-style calendar with 18 venues, 12 in the United States, hosting the leading 48 players in the world, with the winner taking home £2.8 million per tournament.
Personally, I don’t like it. Much like the European Super League in football, I don’t like the idea of an invitation-only tournament and will only take a few tournaments for this to have all the appeal of an exhibition match.
Andy Gardiner, who heads up World Golf Group, the company proposing to launch this new tour in 2023, says it will not be a rival to the majors and the Ryder Cup, but I don’t agree.
I’m a traditionalist when it comes to my golf and I like the idea of seeing the leading players prepare for the majors by ensuring they peak at Augusta or St Andrews, either by playing their way into form or pitching up that given week after practising away from the public eye.
Just look at Tiger Woods. The last 10 years of his career have been structured solely on hitting form four times a year as he wants to beat Jack Nicklaus’ major record.
Forgetting the politics involved in all of this, I really don’t see the prospect of 18 events featuring the same players competing for the same money holding a long-term appeal.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe the rare moments when the leading golfers all converge for one event is what makes it special for fans of the game.