Jon Rahm returns to site of win, bizarre WD at the Memorial

By: PGA Tour

DUBLIN, Ohio – He won in 2020.

He led by six but had to withdraw with a positive COVID test in 2021.

Jon Rahm comes into the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday having seen the highest highs and the lowest lows at Muirfield Village – or so it seems. The truth, he says, is more complicated. Yes, he wanted to become the first player since Tiger Woods to successfully defend his Memorial title (2000-01), but not getting to do so wasn’t going to define his year.

“Yes, I walked off the course, I was told I couldn’t play, and I was mad for about 10 minutes,” he said. “I allowed myself to be upset. But instantly my switched flipped and I called my wife and I made sure that she was OK, and my son was OK.

“Once I knew they were okay,” he continued, “I was in my little trailer, that little COVID hut we had, and me and my caddie were laughing. We ordered milkshakes and we were laughing at the funny part of everything, right. I mean, the fact that that happened; that I had a six-shot lead and it’s gone, I can’t even play, right. I mean, it’s just – the irony of it all …”

Much has been said of Rahm’s maturation on the PGA TOUR, but perhaps no vignette better captures his equanimity than the Memorial a year ago. He had just completed his third round when he was told of the positive test, and while he was clearly aghast at the news, the image of him laughing about it soon after, milkshake in hand, speaks volumes.

Still intense, but possessed of plenty of perspective, Rahm, 27, has found a gear that is serving him well. When he was asked about his putting struggles earlier this season, he shrugged it off, said the flatstick would come around, and won the Mexico Open at Vidanta a month ago, his seventh TOUR win. He’s 11th in the FedExCup, second on the Official World Golf Ranking.

Now the husband and father of one, with another on the way, is headed into a two-week stretch in which he’ll be a big favorite (Memorial) and the defending champion (U.S. Open). He admits his game isn’t at its absolute peak, but it’s not far off.

“I’m comfortable and confident it could be getting better,” he said.

“I can tell you the first time I played here in 2017, I believe, for some reason, I absolutely hated it,” he added. “… I think it was my first missed cut as a pro (it was his second), and I was just like, ‘I’m done. Never going back.’ And Adam (Hayes), my caddie, kept telling me, ‘Man, I’m telling you, this place is great for you. You just need to learn … certain holes and certain shots.’”

Winning here in 2020 changed everything, and he has called the golf he played at last year’s Memorial some of the best of his career. Then he won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. He’s a popular pick to capture his second Memorial this week.

Despite everything, he said, he won’t be playing with a chip on his shoulder.

“It’s a whole new tournament,” Rahm said. “I can’t be playing, let’s say, mad at what happened last year. Is it motivation? Yes. But you know, it’s not much more added to what I already had.”