DUBLIN, Ohio — Lee Westwood was not at Muirfield Village Golf Club this week, but he is well aware of the situation that Jon Rahm endured before having to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament.
The difference: Westwood never tested positive for COVID-19 as Rahm did, forcing his exit despite a six-shot lead through 54 holes.
Westwood, 48, tweeted Sunday that he experienced the same thing as Rahm at the Players Championship in March, minus the positive test.
Rahm was in close contact early last week with a COVID-positive person and went through the PGA Tour’s contact tracing protocols, which required a negative test every day of the week. Rahm, 26, passed all until Saturday. His test between the second and third rounds came back positive as he was playing the back nine, with the sample tested again and returned just as he was finishing.
Upon walking off the green, Rahm was immediately notified by PGA Tour personnel that he had tested positive and would need to withdraw.
Westwood did not provide details, but he finished second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March to Bryson DeChambeau and then was in the same group with him the following week at the Players. Westwood eventually finished second behind winner Justin Thomas.
Throughout the week of the Players, he would have been required to test every day while also not being able to use the indoor facilities.
Westwood also responded to multiple questions from Twitter users after saying, “Ask away if you have any questions you want answered.”
Just reading up on the @JohnRahmPGA situation. I went through a similar thing at the @THEPLAYERSChamp this year less the Saturday positive test. Ask away if you have any questions you want answered.
— Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) June 6, 2021
Asked if Rahm should have been pulled off the course immediately, Westwood responded: “I believe he was notified as soon as they retested the sample (6:05 p.m.) They do it twice in case of a false positive on the first. Informed him straight away. All close contacts either isolate or get tested every day, as Jon had to all week being a close contact of somebody else.”
Asked about the protocols for a player deemed to be a close contact, Westwood said: “You’re given a separate room. You’re not allowed in the clubhouse, player dining locker room or any public areas.”
Asked how often players have to best test, Westwood said: “It’s now vaccine dependent (not required if fully vaccinated), but it’s generally once at the start of the week as soon as you get there and before going on site. Unless you’ve had a close contact then it’s every day between 7-9 in the morning or 3-5 in the afternoon.”
Asked if Rahm should have withdrawn earlier in the tournament for the sake of bettors who put a lot of money on Rahm, Westwood answered facetiously: “Yes the PGA Tour should base all their decisions around the punters (gamblers).”
Asked about the possibility that tests could be manipulated or if there should be more backup scenarios, Westwood said: “The PGA Tour are not trying to find people positive. They give the players the maximum time and every possible scenario to play and opportunity to play. Withdrawing people is the last resort.”
Westwood also said the tour’s timing in telling Rahm was not “ideal” and said he was “not guaranteed to win” despite his six-stroke lead.
Westwood, who is ranked 27th in the world, has 44 worldwide victories in his career, including 25 on the European Tour. He is next scheduled to play at the U.S. Open.