The Olympic golf tournament lost two of its best stars to coronavirus on Sunday, as world number one Jon Rahm and 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau were forced to withdraw from the Tokyo Games.
The PGA announced that DeChambeau was being replaced by Patrick Reed and hours later the Spanish Olympic Committee said Rahm had withdrawn after testing positive for Covid-19 for the second time in two months.
The virus has cast a shadow over the event, with a total of 132 Games-related cases in Japan so far. Thirteen of them are athletes.
The loss of Rahm and DeChambeau, who has been replaced by fellow American golfer Patrick Reed, robs the golf tournament of some of its star power.
“Bryson DeChambeau tested positive for Covid-19 as part of the final testing protocol before leaving the United States for the 2020 Olympics in Japan,” the PGA said in a statement on behalf of USA Golf.
“He won’t be able to compete for the American team.
“Patrick Reed will replace DeChambeau and undergo the required testing protocol today, Sunday and Monday before leaving for Japan. “
Dechambeau could not hide his bitter disappointment.
“I am deeply disappointed that I will not be able to compete in the Olympics for the American team,” said DeChambeau.
“Representing my country means the world to me and it has been a huge honor to be part of this team. “
Reed, who won the Masters in 2018, will join Justin Thomas, recently crowned British Open champion Collin Morikawa and Xander Sc Chaudele in the men’s.
“I am so excited to have the opportunity to represent our country and be part of Team USA in Tokyo,” said Reed.
“I only wish Bryson the best, and I know how disappointed he is that he can’t compete, and I’ll do my best to play my best and represent our country. “
Rahm, who won the US Open in June, returned a positive sample after undergoing mandatory testing following his recent appearance at the British Open this month.
It was the latest twist in what has been a tumultuous season for the 26-year-old Spaniard.
In June, he was forced to withdraw from the PGA Tour memorial tournament while defending a six-stroke lead before the final round after testing positive.
Rahm, who is not being replaced in Tokyo, later revealed he was vaccinated shortly before contracting the disease.
He then bounced back from that setback to clinch a resounding US Open victory at Torrey Pines a fortnight later, winning the championship with back-to-back birdies on the final two holes.
The only other Spanish player registered for the men’s golf competition in Tokyo is Adri Arnaus.
© 2021 AFP