- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Olympics faced a major golf setback Sunday, with two of the top players in the world withdrawing from the competition due to positive coronavirus tests just hours apart.

First, USA Golf announced Bryson DeChambeau had tested positive for the coronavirus late Saturday night as part of the final testing protocol before he left the U.S. for the Games in Japan. And shortly after, Spain’s Olympic committee announced world No. 1 golfer Jon Rahm had to back out of the Olympics due to a positive PCR test.

Rahm has now tested positive for a second time in two months. The Spaniard needed to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament in June despite a six-shot lead entering the final day due to a positive test. And because Rahm competed at the British Open this month, the 26-year-old had to undergo three PCR tests. He tested negative for the first two before a positive test result was returned on the mandatory third attempt.

Spain won’t replace Rahm in the Olympics field, with play beginning Thursday. Team USA will still be well-represented at the Games, with Reed replacing DeChambeau and joining Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele in the men’s field.

“I am deeply disappointed not to be able to compete in the Olympics for Team USA,” DeChambeau said in a statement. “Representing my country means the world to me and it [was] a tremendous honor 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 must undergo testing Sunday and Monday before he departs for Japan. He also competed for the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, which was golf’s return to the Games for the first time since 1904.

“I am so excited to have the opportunity to represent our country and be a part of Team USA in Tokyo,” Reed said in a statement. “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.”

Tokyo Olympics organizers announced Sunday that 137 people connected to the Games in Japan had tested positive for the coronavirus, with at least 13 of them being athletes. Rahm and DeChambeau don’t count toward that number since they weren’t in Japan yet when they tested positive.

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