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DUBLIN, Ohio – In his six decades in the game, Saturday’s surreal scene around the 18th green at Muirfield Village was a first for Jack Nicklaus.
Nicklaus watched, like the rest of us, PGA Tour officials inform Jon Rahm, who had just tied the 54-hole scoring record for a six-stroke lead at the Memorial, that he must withdraw from the tournament after testing positive for COVID-19.
Rahm had been involved in contract tracing after being in close proximity with a person who had COVID-19. Under the circuit’s protocols he was allowed to remain in the tournament but he had to test after each round and following the completion of the weather-delayed second round he tested positive.
Nicklaus said he spoke with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan who had been in contact with Rahm.
“He said Jon has handled it really well. He said he handled it with a lot of class and that he’s very proud of him. I would think Jon would handle it that way,” Nicklaus said. “He understands we have rules and unfortunately the rules are not something that you may like but they are the rules we have right now. You have to abide by them.
“I don’t know how you send him a trophy for three-quarters of a tournament but I’d certainly like to.”
It was the scene around the 18th green late Saturday and Rahm’s emotional reaction that stood out for Nicklaus.
“I don’t think I’ve seen anything that affected an individual that much. Particularly in that position in the tournament. That was a tough thing to swallow for everybody,” he said