Jon Rahm moves past penalty, claims world No. 1 spot with Memorial win

Jon Rahm was in control for most of his final round Sunday at Muirfield Village, where he won this year’s Memorial Tournament, but there was controversy toward the end.

Rahm was assessed a two-stroke penalty after he chipped in from the rough for birdie at 16. PGA Tour officials determined his ball moved.

Rahm accepted his penalty, saying: “I didn’t see it. I promised open honesty and I’m a loyal person, and I don’t want to win by cheating.

“And (when) it kind of happened a couple years ago, I basically told the officials to make the decision they wanted, I just explained my side and I wasn’t given any penalty. And today I see it, and the ball did move. It’s as simple as that.

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“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. I’m one of those where I’m looking down but my awareness is not on the ball.

“As unfortunate as it is to have this happen, it was a great shot, serious. What it goes to show is you never know what’s going to happen. I’m glad I grinded those last two up-and-downs because had I missed both of them, plus the penalty stroke, maybe [runner-up] Ryan [Palmer] finishes strong, I would be in a playoff, and I’m glad I finished it off good.

“I want everybody to hear it — it did move. It is a penalty. As hard as it is to say for how great of a shot it was — as hard as it is to say that, I won’t finish double digits under par. But it did move, so I’ll accept the penalty, and it still doesn’t change the outcome of the tournament. I’m going to stay with that.”

The three-stroke victory moved Rahm (9 under for the tournament) to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, making him the second Spaniard to reach the top. He joins the great Seve Ballesteros in achieving the feat.

“I don’t know how to describe it. It’s been a goal since I was 13, 14 years old,” Rahm told a news conference after surpassing Rory McIlroy as No. 1.

“I remember I heard a story on the radio from my swing coach back in Spain, Eduardo Celles,” Rahm continued. “We were driving somewhere and he asked me what my goals were and my ambitions and this and that, and I remember telling him, I think 13 or 14 years old, it’s like, ‘I’m going to be the best player in the world,’ and that’s what I set out to be.

“Every day I wake up trying to be a better player, a better person, every single day, a better husband, and that’s how I can sum it up.

“Any time I can join my name to Spanish history or any kind of history, it’s very unique. Seve is a very special player to all of us, and to be second to him, it’s a true honor.”

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