LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA | Stand almost any place at the Torrey Pines golf courses, look west and the seeming infinity of the Pacific Ocean shimmers in the distance.
It’s a mesmerizing view, whether in the morning when the marine layer hugs the water or near dusk when the sun slowly sinks away, the purple and orange sky fading to midnight blue.
As big pictures go, there aren’t many bigger than what the South Course at Torrey Pines provides for the U.S. Open, which begins Thursday.
For Jon Rahm, who appreciates the beauty of the area so much that he chose it as the setting to propose to his wife, Kelley, the view is another reminder to look anywhere but behind.
Yesterday’s gone and to hear Rahm tell it, so is any lingering remorse over the gut-wrenching disappointment of testing positive for COVID-19 just 18 holes from winning the Memorial Tournament two weeks ago.
“For anybody wondering what was going through my mind, all that was going on (was) my parents landed Monday, Tuesday they met my son and I wasn’t there. That was truly, truly a hard thing.” – Jon Rahm
Patrick Cantlay left Muirfield Village with a playoff victory over Collin Morikawa while Rahm left there hours earlier in a specially equipped private jet built to accommodate those in need of medical care. It whisked Rahm home to Arizona, leaving behind a potential $1.7 million payday, a sixth PGA Tour victory and three positive COVID tests.
That would be enough but there was more.
Rahm got the news of his forced withdrawal as he walked off the 18th green with a six-stroke lead late Saturday afternoon, confronted on the spot by a PGA Tour medical official who confirmed Rahm had tested positive twice while in the tour’s contact-tracing protocol. He would later test positive a third time Saturday evening.
He got the news in the same spot where tour rules officials informed him almost a year earlier that he had been penalized two strokes for a rules violation on the 16th hole of the final round of the 2020 Memorial, an event he still won by three strokes.
Rahm’s parents were on their way from Spain to see their son for the first time since February 2020 and their grandson for the first time ever. By the time they arrived, Rahm was beginning a 10-day isolation period and couldn’t be there to introduce his parents to his son.
Someone call the Hallmark Channel. There’s a movie to be made here.
“For anybody wondering what was going through my mind, all that was going on (was) my parents landed Monday, Tuesday they met my son and I wasn’t there. That was truly, truly a hard thing,” Rahm said Tuesday at Torrey Pines, his first public comments since the pandemic-related twist at Muirfield Village.
It naturally begs the question of why Rahm was not vaccinated earlier.
It had nothing to do with politics. Rahm said he just had not gotten around to doing it.
“We live in a free country so do as you please,” he said. “I can tell you from experience that, if something happens, you’re going to have to live with the consequences golf-wise.”
When he was informed Monday of Memorial week that he was in the contact-tracing protocol as a result of extended interaction with someone who had COVID, Rahm said he got vaccinated that week. It was too late.
He tested negative every day at the Memorial until Saturday when two tests turned up positive.
“I wish I would have done it earlier,” said Rahm, who cited a busy playing schedule as a deterrent. “To be honest, it wasn’t on my mind. I’m not going to lie. I was trying to get ready for a golf tournament.
“If I had done it a few days earlier, probably we wouldn’t be having these conversations right now. It is what it is. We move on.”
Which brings us to the U.S. Open at the site where Rahm won his first PGA Tour event in 2017.
Despite all that has happened since that Saturday in Ohio – and largely because of what happened in the three rounds he played in a record 18-under par at Muirfield Village – Rahm is the betting favorite to win this U.S. Open. He has not yet won a major championship but Rahm seems built for weeks like this one.
He has finished T5 in the Masters and T8 in the PGA Championship this year and was T3 at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach two years ago. Rahm is ranked third in the world behind Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, neither of whom has shown the recent form that Rahm has.
Other than a few swings in the simulator at his home, Rahm couldn’t work on his game for a week while in isolation. He caught a small break when two negative tests late last week allowed him to end his isolation early and travel to Torrey sooner.
“I still have the memory of all those great golf shots I played, right?” Rahm said. “I’m going to choose to remember that.”
At home and essentially alone for a week with his family just out of reach, Rahm did his best not to dwell on what was lost. He couldn’t change it. He read. He meditated. He watched television, including the final round at Memorial when Cantlay beat Morikawa in a playoff at 13-under – five short of where Rahm was a day earlier.
He thought about the San Diego area and, specifically Torrey Pines. About once a month, Rahm said, he and his wife come here to what they call their favorite city in the world.
His wife used to make regular visits with her parents and now it has become a part of their lives. When it came time to ask Kelley to marry him, Rahm told her it would happen in an unexpected way.
Leave the glamorous proposals to others. There were times when he could tell she was expecting the question to be asked but it wasn’t. Then one day they were in workout clothes, hiking in Torrey Pines park just below the golf course, when Rahm asked the question.
“I’m pretty sure she is happy with the way I did it,” Rahm said.
Here they are again, the view as enchanting as ever.
© 2021 Global Golf Post LLC
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Tell us how we can improve this post?