KAWAGOE, Japan (AP) — Men's golf began Thursday in the Olympics, and the No. 1 player in the world was nearly 6,000 miles away watching from home. Jon Rahm still can't believe he's not playing.
“I didn't think ever that I was not going to be there,” Rahm said in a phone interview from his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. “I can't even tell you what happened.”
The simple explanation is that he received a positive COVID-19 test the day before he planned to leave for Tokyo and fulfill his dream of playing in the Olympics, a chance to add a medal to a banner year that includes a U.S. Open title.
The mystery is why it happened to him.
Rahm passed five COVID-19 tests as part of the PGA Tour's contact tracing at the Memorial the first week in June, and the sixth test came back positive. He was notified moments after he had built a six-shot lead going into the final round, costing him a likely victory.
He had started the vaccination process that week, and because he was asymptomatic, Rahm ended his self-isolation early with back-to-back days of negative results.
Then he won the U.S. Open, the first major championship for the 26-year-old Spaniard.
“For people who don't know, 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.”
Rahm said he went back on Sunday and took a saliva test, an antibody test and a PCR test. The saliva and PCR tests came back negative, and it was confirmed he had the COVID-19 antibodies.
By then, he said, he could not have received three straight negative results and arrived in Tokyo in time to play at Kasumigaseki Country Club, where he would have been the betting favorite.
Along with already having COVID