DUBLIN, Ohio – It was a highlight moment, and Jon Rahm knew it.
“Dun-un-nun,” Rahm said as he walked off the 16th green Sunday, knowing his chip-in birdie at the Memorial was about to be a top play on the evening SportsCenter.
But that video would soon be replayed over and over for another reason. Slow-motion, high-definition replays showed that Rahm’s ball slightly moved when he placed his wedge behind the ball. Per Rule 9.4, that’s a two-shot penalty, turning his improbable birdie into a bogey – and also turning what looked like a four-shot lead into a two-shot cushion.
Rahm didn’t learn of his rules breach until after the round. PGA Tour rules official Slugger White said they didn’t notify Rahm of the potential infraction while he was on the course because they didn’t learn of it until the final group was on the 18th tee. By that point Rahm had picked up another stroke on the 17th. Then he saved par on the home hole after a deft up-and-down from the back edge.
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Waiting to be interviewed by CBS, Rahm heard that PGA Tour rules official Slugger White wanted to talk to him in the scoring room.
“Oooook?” he said, walking up the hill.
A few minutes later, live on the air, Rahm learned that he was being docked two shots, turning what he thought was a five-shot victory into a three-shot win, at 9-under 275.
His mouth agape, Rahm said, “I did not see or feel anything.”
Then: “It still doesn’t take anything away from the shot.”
Nor the victory, which was his fourth on the PGA Tour and vaulted him to No. 1 in the world rankings for the first time.
In the scoring room, Rahm said White had to zoom in on the iPad to show what Rahm said was a “very minimal oscillation that could have basically just been me putting the club down and all the grass just simply going down.”
But after watching the video, he agreed: The ball moved, and he deserved the two-shot penalty.
“He could not have been more of a gentleman and took it in stride,” White said, “and that was about it.”
Rahm was smiling as he exited the room, trailed by his caddie, Adam Hayes, who was still carrying the flag from the 18thhole.
Afterward, Rahm said the chip “will probably go down as my greatest chip shot. I don’t know if I’ll ever top that.”
Indeed, it’ll be replayed not just on SportsCenter, but also as one of the top 10 shots in tournament history. It’ll just be remembered as a bogey, not a birdie.
“It’s unfortunate to have an asterisk on an unbelievable shot,” he said.