Jon Rahm blames himself and not the PGA Tour for his forced withdrawal from the Memorial after revealing he had delayed undertaking a coronavirus vaccination. Rahm stated he failed to prioritise the importance of the pre-Memorial vaccination and instead got carried away with his golf preparations.
As we now know, this decision to delay the vaccination proved extremely costly with Rahm walking from the course on day three leading ‘Jack’s Event’ by a dominating six shots. Though no sooner had the Spaniard putted-out and he was met by two PGA Tour officials who handed him the news that shocked the sports world.
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“Looking back on it, yeah, I guess I wish I would have done it earlier, but thinking of scheduling purposes and having the PGA Championship and defending Memorial, I was just, to be honest, it wasn’t in my mind,” he said in returning to competition at this week’s U.S. Open.
“I’m not going to lie; I was trying to just get ready for a golf tournament. If I had done it a few days earlier, probably we wouldn’t be having these conversations right now. It is what it is. We move on.”
After the Memorial withdrawal, Rahm jetted back to his Arizona home where he spent last week quarantining, hitting some shots on the simulator but not managing to get out to a golf course until arriving in California.
Though the big plus for the current World No. 3 is he returns to Torrey Pines where in 2017 he holed a stunning 60-foot, curling eagle putt for a maiden PGA Tour win in capturing the Farmers Insurance Open. And there’s also the personal memories of Torrey Pines where he proposed to his now wife, Kelley on a nearby hiking trail.
“When you don’t hit a golf shot for just about a week, it’s tough leading into a major, especially a U.S. Open,” Rahm said.
“I’m confident I can get into form quick enough. I still have two more days. I’ve been playing really good golf all year. Two weeks ago … finally everything was firing on all cylinders. Not that I’m expecting to play that perfect again, but I know that I can play at a really high level.”
As the conversation returned to the coronavirus, Rahm turned a touch philosophical when asked what advice he would offer other players who for whatever reason haven’t been vaccinated.
“We live in a free country, so do as you please,” he said. “I can tell you from experience that if something happens, you’re going to have to live with the consequences golf-wise.
“I know if you’re younger, you run less of a risk of having big problems from Covid, but truthfully we don’t know the long-term effects of this virus, so I would encourage people to actually get it done. I had it (the virus), I got the antibodies, I got the vaccination. I feel invincible at this point.”
And Rahm sought to lay no blame on the PGA Tour for the very public coming together at the back of the 18th green on day three of the Memorial, with the sight of a totally shocked Rahm bending over to bury his face in his hands after being advised he was out of the Memorial.
“I tried to hide as much as possible, but I think nowadays it’s impossible,” said Rahm in reference to the emotions at the back of the 18th.
“So, yeah, I was aware of what was going on. And to all the people criticising the PGA Tour, they shouldn’t. We are in a pandemic, and even though this virus has very different forms of attacking people, you never know what reaction you’re going to get.
“The PGA Tour did what they had to do. The CDC rules for a reason. There’s players that missed the World Series last year. There’s other athletes that have missed events.
“Unfortunately, I had a really good showing, and I was pulled out of the tournament right before the final round, but, again, 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 — that’s nonsense. 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. It could have been handled a little bit better possibly, but they did what they had to do.”