Men’s golf started Thursday in the Olympic Games and the world’s number 1 was thousands of miles away watching them from home. Jon rahm still can’t believe he’s not playing.
“I never thought I wouldn’t be there,” Rahm said in a phone interview with Ap from his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. “I can’t even explain what happened.” The simple explanation is that he received a positive COVID-19 test the day before he planned to go to Tokyo and fulfill his dream of playing in the Olympics, an opportunity to add a medal to an exceptional year that includes the United States Open.
The mystery is why it happened to him. Rahm passed five COVID-19 tests as part of the contact tracing of the PGA Tour at the Memorial the first week of June, and the sixth test was positive. He was notified moments after he had built a six-shot lead before the final round, costing him a probable victory.
He had started the vaccination process that week, and because he was asymptomatic, Rahm ended his self-isolation early with consecutive days of negative results. He then won the US Open, his first Grand slam at 26 years old.
“For people who don’t know the protocol, I needed three negative tests,” he said. Thursday, negative. Friday, negative. Saturday, positive. “I did a second one to make sure it wasn’t a false positive,” recalled Rahm, who returned Sunday and had a saliva test, an antibody test and a PCR test.
Saliva and PCR tests came back negative and she was confirmed to have COVID-19 antibodies. By then, he said, he couldn’t have received three negative results in a row and made it to Tokyo in time to play at Kasumigaseki Country Club, where he was the betting favorite.
In addition to having COVID-19 and being vaccinated, Rahm said he flew privately to England for the British, where he passed all the tests necessary to play. He tied for third, the only player this year to have finished in the top 10 in all four Grand Slams.
More maddening for Rahm is searching for answers as to why this happened to him. “I haven’t had two experts tell me the same thing,” he said. Andy Levinson, the senior vice president of the PGA Tour who has overseen the COVID-19 protocols, was not involved in any of Rahm’s tests and has not spoken with him.
From his experience and his work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he said it could be a case similar to last summer, when some players tested positive for weeks, sometimes months, after 10 days of isolation and no symptoms.
“The reason the CDC does not require someone to retest after 10 days of isolation is that it is very likely that the test will detect remnant viral particles for some time,” said Levinson, who is also a director of USA Golf. At the olympic games.
“Every day you have fewer viral particles left in your body,” he said. “If someone is taking a swab, it could be negative, and another day they might catch particles. It is conceivable that their positive result is related to that, particularly in a later test.”
Protocols guided by the CDC last summer allowed players who tested positive for the coronavirus to not have to be tested for 90 days. But this is the Olympics. The governing body is the Japanese government, and the policy is strict.
Rahm has learned to restrain himself, helped by the prospect of his wife giving birth to their first child, Kepa. He credits that new perspective with allowing him to recover from the Memorial’s disappointment by winning the US Open. That positive result before the Olympics put him to the test.
“Five months ago, I would have been angrier about it. Not this time, but it took me more than a day to get over it,” Rahm said. “The dream of being an Olympian is going to have to wait three more years. That’s really disturbing in a way.” There is a great advantage. Through the pandemic, Rahm has learned from experience that golf is irrelevant. A close friend from Spain died of COVID-19.
He and his family are healthy. “Golf is secondary. My wife, my son, my family is the important thing. I can’t say it’s a bad year. I got the US Open trophy and I am number 1 in the world. I will never say that I am an unfortunate person. “Rahm concluded.