World No. 1 Jon Rahm has been able to get a month of rest before the FedExCup playoffs, although that was not the intent. He was set to represent his native Spain at The Olympics in Tokyo, but was forced out by a positive COVID test.
That was especially notable because in early June, Rahm was forced to withdraw from The Memorial Tournament after 54 holes, leading by six, because he tested positive for COVID.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Rahm was unsure what happened, but was more upset about missing out on the Olympics versus his near certain victory at the Memorial, particularly since the positive tests ahead of Tokyo appear to have been caused by faulty tests.
“Well, the one thing I can say — this was a little harder to digest than Memorial because I’ve done everything the system tells me to do,” said Rahm, explaining what happened ahead of the Olympics.
“I got all my negatives. First one on Thursday negative, Friday negative, Saturday I get my first positive. And then they tested me again that same day, and I apparently was positive again.
“Then I got tested the next two days. One was the saliva test, one was PCR, both negative. Got an antibody test done, so blood test, and I had the antibodies.
“So I can’t really explain what in the world happened. I don’t know if it’s false positives or just what I had leftover from when I had COVID, just dead cells that were in there that we all know can happen.
“There’s a reason why the PGA TOUR won’t test you for a while after you’ve had COVID.
“So it’s unfortunate, and I understand it’s a weird case because I tested negative so quickly and tested negative and tested negative all throughout the UK (at The Open Championship), and I get here and the test is positive.
“It really is unfortunate. It sucked because I wanted to represent Spain. I wanted to play that one. I wanted to hopefully give Spain a medal. I was wishing for a gold medal, but just being part of that medal count for the country would have been huge.
“It was more devastating in that sense. I was more in the mindset of playing for them more than me.
“Still makes me a little sad, I’m not going to lie. I’m going to have to wait three more years hopefully to qualify for the Olympics, but I was really ready for this one.”
He added, “I can guarantee you I didn’t have COVID this time, not at all. I had five tests done, four of them were negative, one was positive. That first time I did have COVID, barely any symptoms, but I had it.
“This time I had nothing.
“Listen, it is what it is. That’s the only thing I can say. It is really unfortunate.”
With all that aside, Rahm is probably the player with the best chance to win this week: the 26-year-old has been exceptional in 2021, with a Tour-leading 12 top 10s in 19 starts, including a breakthrough major championship victory at the U.S. Open. He is fifth in the current FedExCup standings, largely due to fewer starts made than those ahead of him.
Rahm finished T6 at last year’s The Northern Trust, before winning the following week at the BMW Championship. He was T3 at Liberty National in 2019, finishing two strokes behind Patrick Reed after playing his final five holes in 2-over.
Joel Cook contributed to this article.