Jon Rahm wins Memorial to claim Rory McIlroy’s World Number One Spot
After replacing Rory McIlroy as world number one, Jon Rahm brushed away a tear of joy by winning the PGA TOUR? Memorial TOURnament.
A three-over-par 75 was enough to win on nine under, three ahead of Ryan Palmer (74), with Matt Fitzpatrick (68) third on five under, with fellow Englishman Matt Wallace (72) one back.
Rahm is the second Spaniard since Seve Ballesteros to make it to the world’s top spot.
“I’ve accomplished a lifelong goal and any time I can join Spanish history with Seve is incredible,” said Rahm.
“But it’s hard to process right now because golf feels secondary. I lost two family members in the [coronavirus] quarantine. There are so many things going through my mind right now that have nothing to do with golf.”
It was the sixth PGA TOUR event since professional golf returned following an extended three-month suspension in the United States and was rumored as the first to allow fans back through the gates.
However, the PGA TOUR last week said that the remaining nine events of this season will take place behind closed doors as coronavirus cases continue to skyrocket in the country.
Rahm overcomes penalty wobble to win
Rahm, 25, entered the final round in Ohio’s Muirfield Village, with a four-shot advantage over Palmer and Tony Finau.
That lead was eight by the eighth hole. “And then it got a little twisted,” said Rahm.
He bogeyed the 10th and then slammed his driver into the ground in anger after hitting his tee shot on the par-five 11th into the water. He would double-bogey the hole and see his lead cut to five.
Palmer birdied the short 12th, and Rahm’s lead was cut to 3 when he bogeyed the 14th.
He also looked in trouble on the par-three 16th after his errant tee shot went into the greenside rough, but he struck a perfectly delicate chip that rolled for a birdie right into the middle of the cup.
“It was an excellent shot,” Rahm said. It was the best short-game shot I’ve ever hit.”
However, in addressing the ball before his chip, television pictures showed that he inadvertently moved his ball a fraction. PGA TOUR rules officials studied the footage while Rahm played his final two holes.
He only learned of his potential infringement when being interviewed immediately after his round and before he had signed his scorecard.
“I did not see or feel anything,” he said. “If it did move I did not see anything. It’s not going to take anything away from that shot.
“For that to go in, that was exactly what I needed.”
He was eventually penalised two shots but that only changed the size of his victory.
Nicklaus and wife recover from coronavirus
Record 18-time major winner Nicklaus said during the round that he and his wife Barbara both tested positive for coronavirus back in March.
Nicklaus said his wife had no symptoms, while he dealt with a sore throat and cough for more than a month.
“It didn’t last very long, and we were very, very fortunate, very lucky,” said Nicklaus, who noted that he and his wife, both 80, are at an “at-risk age” for more serious Covid-19 symptoms.
“Our hearts go out to the people who did lose their lives and their families. We were just a couple of the lucky ones,” he added.