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Jon Rahm storms into six-shot lead at The Memorial before being informed he tested positive for coronavirus

Jon Rahm started Saturday at The Memorial with a hole-in-one, and he also fired a superb third-round 64 to open up a six-shot lead before the defending champion was withdrawn from the tournament after a positive Covid-19 test

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Jon Rahm fired a third-round 64 to open up a six-shot lead at The Memorial, only to be told as he left the 18th green that he was out of the tournament due to a positive Covid-19 test.

Jon Rahm looked primed for a successful defence of his title at The Memorial until he was dramatically forced out of the tournament after testing positive for Covid-19.

Rahm looked elated as he stepped off the 18th green at Muirfield Village following a six-birdie, back-nine 30 which propelled him into a commanding six-shot lead, but his joy turned to despair when a PGA Tour official informed him he would be withdrawn from the event.


The Memorial Tournament

The devastating turn of events denies Rahm the chance to become the first player since Tiger Woods 20 years ago to win back-to-back at "Jack's place", and leaves Patrick Cantlay and Collin Morikawa as joint-leaders heading into the final round.

The news was understandably a huge setback for Rahm following one of the most impressive days of his PGA Tour career, celebrating a superb hole-in-one towards the end of his second round on Saturday morning before following up with a third-round 64 that lifted him to 18 under par.

Jon Rahm watches his tee shot on the 14th hole during the third round of the Memorial golf tournament, Saturday, June 5, 2021, in Dublin, Ohio. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Image: Rahm was six shots clear after the third round

A PGA Tour statement confirmed that Rahm had been tested every day this week after it was determined he had come into close contact with someone who had already tested positive, and the Spaniard's positive result was clarified while he was still on the course in his third round.

The world No 3 will now have to self-isolate for a 10-day period which ends on Tuesday, June 15, giving him only one day to travel to Torrey Pines and prepare for the US Open.

"Jon Rahm was subject to contact-tracing protocols, as he had come in close contact with a person who was COVID positive," the statement from the PGA Tour read.

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Jon Rahm powered into the halfway lead with the help of a spectacular hole-in-one towards the end of his weather-delayed second round at The Memorial.

"Per the Tour's COVID Health & Safety Plan, Rahm was given the option to remain in the competition and enter our tracing protocol, which includes daily testing and restricted access to indoor facilities. Rahm has remained asymptomatic.

"Rahm has tested negative every day, but his most recent test - which was performed after the conclusion of his second round (rain delayed) and before the start of his third round - returned positive at approximately 4:20 pm ET while Rahm was on the golf course.

"The PGA Tour's medical advisor requested a confirmatory test on the original sample, which came back at 6:05pm and was also positive. The PGA Tour's medical advisor notified Rahm immediately upon completion of his round, and under Tour protocols, he will be withdrawn from the competition.

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Andy Levinson, PGA Tour Senior Vice President of Tournament Administration, discusses Jon Rahm’s withdraw after testing positive for coronavirus and the further steps officials will take.

"Rahm is now in isolation, and in accordance with CDC guidelines, he will need to remain in isolation through Tuesday, June 15.

"While this is an incredibly unfortunate situation, throughout 50 events since the PGA Tour's Return to Golf, there have been only four positive tests (including Rahm) within competition; Rahm is the first positive, asymptomatic case as part of the Tour's routine, contact-tracing protocols."

While Rahm was withdrawn from the tournament, there was no confirmation if his two playing partners on Saturday - Cantlay and Scottie Scheffler - would also be pulled out as they await the results of their coronavirus tests.

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As it stands, 2019 champion Cantlay will go into Sunday's final round tied for the lead with Morikawa, who made his eighth birdie of the round at the last for a 66 to post 12 under in the clubhouse, a score matched only by Cantlay after he handed in a 68.

Scheffler (69) and Branden Grace (67) are three behind after 54 holes, with Max Homa six shots off the pace following a disappointing 72 that kept him at six under, one ahead of Patrick Reed.

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