Two spectators and a golf writer should have seen it coming.
Jon Rahm finished the 15th hole at Muirfield Village in a practice round for the Memorial. Walking to the next tee, two spectators approached for an autograph.
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“I’m sorry, I can’t,” Rahm replied. “I am looking for contacts.”
It was a response never heard in the year since golf returned from its hiatus due to the pandemic, odd enough to wonder if this was the perfect answer to avoid having to stop for sign. And then a reminder of that moment came back three days later.
Rahm came off the 18th green with a six-stroke lead and a record 54-hole score. He was approached by two PGA Tour officials, and Rahm doubled down in disbelief. After being tested for COVID-19 every day since arriving, his last one came back positive and he had to withdraw.
Golf started out without fans along the Pacific Coast before going from a few fans in Florida to a packed house of (mostly American) fans at the Ryder Cup in Wisconsin. Along the way, there were plenty of other memories that went beyond birdies, bogeys, and bubbles.
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The gold medal meant just as much to Xander Sc Chaudele’s parents. His father had his own Olympic aspirations until a car accident cost him his left eye and resulted in injuries that forced him to give up being a decathlete. Her mother grew up in Japan and her parents still live there.
Stefan ScHotele leaned against a tree and shed tears as he watched his son step onto the podium as the national anthem played. When it was over, he wore his son’s Olympic credentials. It said more about Alex than it did at the time.
“My wife wants me to make sure he doesn’t throw this away,” Stefan Sc Chaudele said. “Alex is known for throwing everything away, especially the things that mean a lot to her. I promised to remove it as soon as possible.
Any trip to Torrey Pines is sure to bring memories of the Junior World Championship, regardless of the golfer’s pedigree.
Hambric Sports’ David Winkle, who runs Dustin Johnson, was 14 when he played Junior World at Torrey. He missed the cup, but a friend from Dallas was a top junior and contender, so Winkle stayed on to watch. His friend played the final round with Nathaniel Crosby, whose father was in the stands.
Winkle scrolled through his phone and found the photo of himself standing next to Bing Crosby, smoother than ever in a red cardigan.
The photo toured the US Open media center, and one of the youngest scribes showed his age. After finally recognizing Winkle with full hair, he asked, “Who’s the guy with the sweater?”
There are very few subtle things about Jon Rahm making big putts, but one detail caught his attention as he watched a replay of his US Open victory.
Most of the time, when he makes a big putt, the big Spaniard slams his fist towards the ground. When he landed the 18-foot birdie on the 18th hole at Torrey Pines, he pushed his fist up.
“I never hit my fist,” Rahm said months later. “But for some reason I did it this time. And I think it was because right in front of me on the second floor of the Lodge hotel was a Rolex box where I knew it was part of my family happened to be. So I think I was really celebrating with them at the same time. “
A week after having to withdraw from the Olympics due to a positive COVID-19 test, Bryson DeChambeau said he had not been vaccinated because he was young and preferred to make sure that people who really needed to have access to it. Apparently he didn’t know there was no vaccine shortage in the United States.
When he was criticized, he decided to stop talking to the media. He doubled that policy in the BMW Championship when DeChambeau had the chance to shoot 59 at Caves Valley until he missed a 6-foot birdie putt on the last hole. He cut the media again – except to spend the whole day with a reporter in the third round.
The flagship of his group, the person walking around with a moving dashboard, was Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and Caves Valley member. If DeChambeau knew who Friedman was, he didn’t say so.
Kevin Kisner said at the start of the year he was playing courses where he knew he had no realistic chance of winning. So why play? “Because they are giving a lot of money for the 20th,” he replied.
The PGA Tour playoff venues have done him a disservice. Both were long and the conditions were mild. Kisner started the FedEx Cup qualifiers in 29th place and needed everything to stay in the top 30 and reach the circuit championship. This is not the case. He missed the cut at Liberty National and didn’t beat anyone at Caves Valley, finishing 24 strokes behind.
“The first day my ball hooked up to number 10 I knew it was going to be a long week. The Top 20 would be as good as I could get here,” he said.
He was reminded that they were giving a lot of money for the 20th.
“Yes, they are not doing it for the 70th,” he replied.
Harry Higgs thought he was done with his media obligations after a CJ Cup 67 at the Summit in Las Vegas, so when a young girl asked for a souvenir, he happily handed her his cap. But as he made his way up the hill, a tour manager informed him that the Golf Channel wanted him for a TV interview.
Panic began to set in. The young girl was gone. Higgs looked around frantically and found Rasmus Hojgaard, who played with him that day. The Dane is also sponsored by TaylorMade.
“Hey, can I borrow your hat?” Higgs said. “I am in renegotiations with TaylorMade.”
They don’t have the same hat size, but Higgs managed to shake his head and conduct the interview.
The PGA Tour season reached its final day at East Lake with Patrick Cantlay leading Rahm by two strokes. Superintendent Jay Monahan was on the first tee of the last lap as usual and when the leaders started he was asked what he hoped to see.
Cantlay had won the BMW Championship with an incredible rally, which earned him three wins for the season. One of them was at the Memorial, where Rahm had the six-shot lead and had to withdraw due to the positive COVID-19 test.
Monahan thought about this for a minute before saying, “When they get to 15, a difference all of a sudden.”
Three hours later, Cantlay was standing on the 15th hole of par 3 at 20 under and Rahm was 19 under par. Cantlay ended up winning the FedEx Cup by a blow.
Tiger Woods was playing a remarkable golf tournament 10 months after his car accident, and everyone wanted to see him. Ian Poulter and his 9-year-old son Joshua, who already had her picture taken with Charlie Woods, 12.
Going down the second fairway, Joshua asked Poulter, “Dad, what’s the age limit to play?
Poulter was more honest than ever. The PNC Championship is reserved for players who have won a Major Championship or the Players’ Championship.
“It’s not so much an age limit as what your old man has accomplished,” Poulter told him with a smile. “And unfortunately your dad didn’t do enough. Unless they started counting the Ryder Cups.”
Hideki Matsuyama was in the mix at the 2015 Phoenix Open when the PGA Tour asked all questions to go to the performer. The first was directed at Matsuyama: Who do you like in the Super Bowl?
He leaned over to the microphone and replied in English: “Seattle Seahawks”.
It has become a running joke over the years, even though he would never pick a team.
The request was renewed this month to the now Masters champion. Matsuyama responded this time in an email, through his interpreter, but he made his play.
“You always ask me that question and I always say, ‘I don’t know. “But this year I’m leaving with a rehearsal for Tampa Bay,” he said.