The Memorial Tournament: Calm Jon Rahm ready to add second win after 2021 agony

The Spaniard triumphed at Muirfield Village in 2020 and had a six-shot lead after 54 holes last year before being forced to pull out due to a positive Covid test.

It's easy to imagine Jon Rahm having steam come out of his ears for days, if not weeks, after what happened to him at Muirfield Village last year.

The Spaniard had just posted a brilliant third-round 64 to power into a six-shot lead when he was called to one side.

Instead of winning the Memorial Tournament and being presented with the trophy by host Jack Nicklaus for a second straight year, Rahm was told there would be no chance of a successful defence. Instead, he would have to go and self-isolate after returning a positive Covid test.

No-one can ever be sure that he'd definitely have won but this was Jon Rahm. With a six-shot lead. On a course he loved.

Spanish golfers are passionate beings - Jose Maria Olazabal once had to withdraw from the US Open after breaking his right hand when punching a wall in his hotel room after opening with a 75 - and it's easy to imagine Rahm knocking seven bells out of any inanimate objects that crossed his path in the aftermath.

But, surprisingly, he revealed ahead of this week's Memorial that the anger quickly evaporated.

"Yes, I walked off the course, I was told I couldn't play, and I was mad for about ten minutes, right. I allowed myself to be upset. But instantly my switched flipped and I called my wife and I made sure that she was okay and my son was okay," said Rahm.

"Once I knew they were okay, I was in my little trailer, that little Covid hut we had, and me and my caddie were laughing.

"We ordered milkshakes and we were laughing at the funny part of everything, right. I mean, the fact that that happened; that I had a six-shot lead and it's gone, I can't even play, right. I mean, it's just… the irony of it all kind of made us laugh.

"But at that moment, I chose to just remember how good I had played. I had played really good golf all year last season but it was the first time everything was clicking, and that was right before the thick of the season."

Rather than sulk during that final round on Sunday, Rahm chose to follow it on TV.

"I watched it with a lot of grace. I was having fun. I kind of tuned in looking to see how close they got to 18-under which is where I was at. Obviously Sunday was a windy day and it was a tough one.

"But still, I wanted to watch. I'm a golf fan and I wanted to see who was going to win. Like I said, there was no guarantee that I was going to but I had a pretty good chance."

Two weeks later on his very next start, Rahm was celebrating becoming a Major winner for the first time when hoisting the US Open trophy aloft at Torrey Pines in California.

Reflecting further on the aftermath of his Memorial withdrawal, he added: "I felt nothing but comfortable and confident for the summer. And really, I didn't let it slow me down and I played great golf the rest of the summer up to The Ryder Cup.

"I chose to just stay in the positive of things. And when I got home and I was dealing with Covid, I still stayed hopeful. All the hard work I've done the previous months since I switched to Callaway, it doesn't just go like that.

"So I was confident when I stepped up at Torrey that I could get it done."

Rahm happy with game

Jon Rahm Northern Trust 2021

Rahm hasn't shown his best form in 2022 but emerged from a modest run to score victory in the Mexico Open two starts ago.

Assessing his own game, he said: "It's good. It's in good shape.

"You're not always going to play at your highest level all the time, and I'm not at my highest by any means. But I'm comfortable and confident it could be getting better.

"Like I said earlier last year, I think I had a lot of top 10s up until this point but I wasn't feeling my best. I was just scoring really well and kind of sneaking in Sundays and finishing in the top 10, and this week is where everything clicked.

"So you know, any given day things can get going very, very fast and have a really, really good stretch. So I'm not worried.

"I wouldn't say I'm at a lower level than I was last year. I think I'm more comfortable than I was last year. It's just things haven't really happened yet but I'm playing good golf and I'm confident."

Rahm yet to see US Open venue

Rahm will defend his US Open title at The Country Club in Massachusetts later this month and is looking forward to the test.

Jon Rahm at the 2022 Masters

"I'm assuming it's very different than Torrey Pines, aside from being on complete opposite sides of the country," he said.

"My caddie, Adam, was up there. Went with his kids to watch the Red Sox game. They are big baseball fans. He stopped around and told me it's a great track.

"All I've heard is great things about it. I know of the history of The Country Club, but I haven't seen it personally. So I wouldn't be able to tell you."

READ MORE: The Memorial Tournament: The Jack Nicklaus test produces boom or bust results from the world's best

Latest news