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Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau forced out of Olympics

Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau forced out of Olympics
© Reuters
The pair were due to make their debuts in the Games when the men's event starts on Thursday at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

World number one Jon Rahm and last year’s US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau have been forced out of the Olympics after they both tested positive for Covid-19 prior to travelling to Tokyo.

The pair were due to make their debuts in the Games when the men’s event starts on Thursday at Kasumigaseki Country Club and would have been among the frontline contenders to claim a podium position.

Rahm, in particular, would have been heavily fancied after ending a long wait for his first major last month, when the 26-year-old Spaniard edged out South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen to win the US Open at Torrey Pines in California.

He then travelled to the United Kingdom for The Open – where he finished in a tie for third – and as a requirement to enter Japan, he had to pass three PCR tests. Two samples were negative but the third produced a positive result.

“Golfer Jon Rahm has tested positive for Covid-19, so he will not attend the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” said the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, which announced there was “no material time” to find a replacement.

“The positive has been detected by undergoing a third consecutive PCR test, mandatory for all those who have been recently in the United Kingdom, as is the case of Jon Rahm. The first two PCR tests were negative.”

It is the second time in a matter of weeks that Rahm has had a positive test, having had to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament last month, while six shots ahead, before rallying two weeks later at the US Open.

Rahm wrote on Twitter: “I would have loved to have been the first Spanish Olympic gold medallist in golf, but unfortunately destiny had other plans.

“This is a great reminder for all of us that we’re still in a pandemic, things are not over, and we still need to fight together to (get) through this the best we can. I wish all the great athletes representing Spain the best of luck as they compete in Tokyo, I will be watching and cheering them on from home. God bless.”

It was announced earlier on Sunday that DeChambeau, the current world number six who preceded Rahm as US Open champion, had been withdrawn from competing because of his own positive test for Covid-19.

Instead, USA Golf revealed DeChambeau has been replaced by Patrick Reed, who joins Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele in the United States team. It will be the 2018 Masters champion’s second Games.

DeChambeau had a tumultuous experience at the Open last week. Having criticised his equipment providers on the opening day, he carded a final round 65 to end the competition with a flourish.

His finish at Royal St George’s for a share of 33rd-place may have given the 27-year-old confidence he could be among the frontrunners for gold in the Japanese capital but instead he must watch from home.

“I am deeply disappointed not to be able to compete in the Olympics for Team USA,” DeChambeau said.

The Open 2021 – Day Two – The Royal St George’s Golf Club
Patrick Reed has replaced DeChambeau in the United States team and will play in his second Olympics (David Davies/PA)

“Representing my country means the world to me and it is was a tremendous honour to make this team. I wish Team USA the best of luck next week in Tokyo.

“I will now focus on getting healthy, and I look forward to returning to competition once I am cleared to do so.”

Reed, who finished in a tie for 11th place in the Rio Olympics five years ago, said: “I am so excited to have the opportunity to represent our country and be a part of Team USA in Tokyo.

“I wish Bryson nothing but the best, and I know how disappointed he is to not be able to compete, and I will do my best to play my best and represent our country.”

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