Douglas Andrews / June 7, 2021

The PGA Picks Jon Rahm’s Pocket

The runaway leader of this weekend’s tournament was DQ’d due to a COVID-19 diagnosis.

In an anti-scientific act of pure cowardice, the PGA Tour on Saturday robbed one of its best players of a nearly $1.7 million winner’s share in this weekend’s Memorial golf tournament — all because of a positive COVID-19 test.

When 26-year-old Jon Rahm sunk his final putt on the 18th green Saturday, he was clearly feeling no ill effects — but his opponents no doubt were. Rahm, the tournament’s defending champion, had just capped off a sizzling eight-under-par round of 64 to put him a commanding six strokes ahead of the field. In building that lead, he’d tied both the tournament’s 54-hole scoring record and its largest lead ever. In short, Rahm, the world’s third-ranked player, was playing perhaps the best golf of his life, and there was precious little chance of anyone catching him on Sunday. But as he was walking off the green at 18, he was oddly intercepted by PGA officials:

Rather than pulling Rahm aside when he got to the clubhouse, the officials cluelessly broke the news to him right there on camera. It doubled him over, because he knew it meant disqualification from the tournament.

As The Wall Street Journal’s Andrew Beaton reports, “On Monday, the PGA Tour had notified Rahm that he was subject to contact-tracing protocols because he had come in close contact with someone who was positive. He was given the option to remain in the competition under certain restrictions that included restricted access to indoor facilities and daily testing. He had tested negative until Saturday — when a test came back and was later confirmed as positive.”

But since when does a positive COVID-19 test endanger the health of an entire field of world-class golfers? Answer: since never. Especially since young people aren’t generally at risk, and since golf is played in greatly separated pairs, and since golf entails no physical contact. Let’s face it: Golf isn’t mixed martial arts. Or even basketball. Or even backgammon.

And since when is anyone — young or old, fit or obese — at risk of catching the virus outdoors? Answer: almost never. Even the CDC has been forced to walk back its laughable claim that 10% of coronavirus transmission occurs outdoors. (The incompetent CDC had reportedly based its number on flawed data from — no kidding — Singapore construction sites.) As infectious disease expert Dr. Aaron Richterman put it, “I’m sure it’s possible for transmission to occur outdoors in the right circumstances. But if we had to put a number on it, I would say much less than 1 percent.”

Much less than 1 percent.

What’s more, COVID cases have been plummeting during the outdoor months, and through natural exposure and resistance, and through vaccination. As former FDA head Dr. Scott Gottlieb said two weeks ago, “I think by June, we’re probably going to be at one infection per a hundred thousand people per day, which is a very low level.”

The PGA Tour, which, along with NHL hockey, has largely resisted the nauseating wokeness of the other major sports, is either way behind the curve in terms of the science, or way ahead of it in terms of weak-kneed hysteria. It’s almost as if Gretchen Whitmer and her fellow mask-wearing lockdown tyrants are setting the Tour’s COVID policy.

As intrepid COVID hysteria critic Alex Berenson argued, “Covid — so dangerous to the young and healthy that Jon Rahm didn’t even know he was infected until his positive test came back — and had been easily beating every other golfer in the world this week. What a joke.”

Jon Rahm was robbed this weekend, and it’s a shame that his fellow players didn’t stand up for him. None of these millionaires needs the money, but they missed an opportunity to stand up for principle, and for science, and against COVID-19 hysteria. What would the event’s organizers have done, for example, if the two golfers who were tied for second after Saturday’s round had said, “If Jon Rahm doesn’t play tomorrow, we don’t play”?

The Memorial is held annually at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, and it’s hosted by the greatest golfer in history, Jack Nicklaus. “Everybody here is devastated,” said the Golden Bear about Rahm’s forced withdrawal. “It’s a terrible thing to have happen. Jon handled it very well. … He understands that we have rules. And unfortunately, those are not something that you really may like, but those are the rules that we have right now. … We’re sad for him, but the round will go on.”

The final round did go on yesterday, with Patrick Cantlay beating fellow American Colin Morikawa in a sudden death playoff. But it was clearly missing something: It was missing Jon Rahm.

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