Spaniard posts a 3-stroke victory that wasn't as easy as it might have seemed after some back-nine drama, but he pockets $1.674 million and is projected to move to No. 1 in the world ranking
Rahm won despite a 3-over 75 in the final round during which he led by as many as eight strokes and endured a two-stroke penalty, which was assessed after he had holed out on the 18th green at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio (scores).
When addressing his ball from the behind the green on the par-3 16th hole, Rahm was determined later to have nudged the ball slightly. Though he holed out for an apparent birdie 2, the penalty – one stroke for moving the ball and another stroke for not playing it from the original spot under Rule 9.4 "Ball Lifted or Moved by Player" – resulted in a bogey 4.
The incident, which was reviewed by PGA Tour rules officials who alerted Rahm after his round, capped a bizarre day for the Spaniard. He stood 2 under on the ninth hole when storms suspended play for 50 minutes. Upon returning to the course, he made the turn in 34 and with an unblemished scorecard. Then came the back nine, where he started bogey, double bogey. After another bogey at the 14th, his lead was down to three strokes over playing competitor Ryan Palmer, with whom Rahm won the 2019 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
When Rahm holed out for an apparent birdie at 16 and Palmer missed a 12-foot birdie putt, Rahm thought his lead was back to four. Really, it was two, but he wouldn’t know that until later. Palmer bogeyed the 17th, effectively handing the title to Rahm.
Rahm finished at 9-under 279. Palmer, who closed with a 74, was solo second at 6-under 282. England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick shot 4-under 68, the only sub-70 score in the final round, to surge into third place at 5-under 283.
“The ball did move,” Rahm said. “It’s as simple as that. The rules of golf are clear. Had I seen it, I would have said something. But you have to zoom in the camera to be able to see something, and I have rough; I’m looking at my landing spot. I’m not really thinking of looking at the golf ball.
“As unfortunate as it is to have this happen, it was a great shot. What it goes to show is you never know what’s going to happen. So, I’m glad I grinded those last two up-and-downs. I want everybody to hear it; it did move. It is a penalty. But it did move, so I’ll accept the penalty, and it still doesn’t change the outcome of the tournament. It doesn’t take anything from the day, though. It’s still probably one of the greatest days of my life.”
Rahm was projected to move to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. If so, he would join the late Seve Ballesteros as the only Spaniards to ascend to the top of the world order.
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