DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — So much about the Memorial felt as although golf was again to regular.
Thousands of followers surrounded the 18th gap, with match founder Jack Nicklaus sitting behind the inexperienced as he waited to greet the winner. Patrick Cantlay had a agency grip on the crystal trophy, identical to he did two years in the past the final time spectators roamed Muirfield Village.
It even rained, although not for very lengthy.
But so much about Cantlay’s playoff victory Sunday over Collin Morikawa made this Memorial not like any of the earlier 45 editions.
This was as much about who received as who did not even play.
Cantlay, like everybody else at Muirfield Village, felt horrible than Jon Rahm went from tying match information — a 54-hole rating of 18-under par and a six-shot lead — to being notified of a constructive COVID-19 check that knocked him out of the ultimate spherical.
What would have occurred?
“Such a weird situation and so unfortunate because — me included — everyone knows it would have been a totally different day had that not happened,” Cantlay stated. “But there’s nothing I could do about it.”
Cantlay walked off the 18th inexperienced Saturday night going through a six-shot deficit and making an attempt to determine how low he must go within the closing spherical to also have a probability. Morikawa had completed within the group forward. He was within the clubhouse when his girlfriend despatched a textual content to inform him what occurred to Rahm.
“I went downstairs to look at the TV and you see what happened to Jon and it’s awful,” Morikawa stated. “He deserved to go out and play really well, and he was 18 under. The rules are rules and you have to follow guidelines.”
Padraig Harrington suffered a destiny much like Rahm. He had a five-shot lead within the Benson & Hedges International Open on the European Tour in 2000 when the membership requested for scorecards of the winner to publish within the clubhouse. That’s when it was found Harrington by no means signed his card within the first spherical. The penalty was disqualification.
This felt out-of-the-blue as a result of nobody had examined constructive throughout a match on the PGA Tour in 10 months. Branden Grace was one birdie out of the lead (modified Stableford scoring) after 36 holes within the Barracuda Championship when he examined constructive and needed to withdraw.
Rahm had been within the contact tracing program from having are available in contact with somebody who was COVID-19 constructive, that means he needed to check daily to have the ability to play. Every check since Monday was unfavourable till Saturday after the rain-delayed second spherical.
His 64 on Saturday was among the many finest rounds in Memorial historical past, practically 9 pictures higher than the typical rating. Rahm was the defending champion. He is No. 3 on the earth.
And then he was gone.
“We’re all devastated,” Nicklaus stated Sunday earlier than the ultimate spherical. “I wish we could figure out how to give Jon three-fourths of the trophy.”
Nicklaus additionally questioned how much his absence would weigh on the gamers left to contend, although that wasn’t an issue for both. This was out of their fingers. All they may do was play.
“I did everything I could with the cards I was dealt,” Cantlay stated. “And I really did a good job of focusing today on the task at hand and staying present, and that’s all you can do in this game.”
He did it just a little higher than everybody else.
Morikawa struggled to hit greens early, after which it value him late. Cantlay missed six putts from 10 ft or nearer — three for par, three for birdie — and thought it will value him.
The match with out Rahm did not lack for drama.
Morikawa had a one-shot lead with two holes to play when Cantlay poured in a 25-foot birdie putt on the seventeenth gap to catch him. Both hit poor tee pictures on the 18th and made par, every posting a 1-under 71 to complete at 13-under 275.
Rahm reached 13 beneath on the eleventh gap Saturday. What would have occurred? Cantlay stated a 71 largely doubtless would not have finished the trick if Rahm had been nonetheless playing. But he wasn’t.
On the 18th within the playoff, Morikawa missed the inexperienced from the golf green. Cantlay gouged an 8-iron from the deep tough into the bunker. He blasted out to 12 ft and made the par putt, a winner when Morikawa chipped to six ft and missed his putt for par.
That occurs lots in golf. It’s every little thing else at this Memorial that was unprecedented.
“He (Rahm) played so amazing the first three rounds that the way I felt Sunday morning was obviously a lot different than I felt walking off the 18th green on Saturday,” Cantlay stated. “Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do except reset and just take the new paradigm and run with it.”
It took him to his fourth profession victory, his second on the Memorial, and one other handshake with Nicklaus off the 18th inexperienced. This was satisfying. It was particular. And it was completely different.
“There’s maybe a little hint of something I can’t quite put my finger on,” Cantlay stated. “But I mean, the emotions I felt out there and the focus that it took today was just as any other tournament.”