Memorial as much about Cantlay winning as Rahm not playing

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Patrick Cantlay holds the trophy after winning the Memorial golf tournament, Sunday, June 6, 2021, in Dublin, Ohio. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

DUBLIN, Ohio – So much about the Memorial felt as though golf was back to normal.

Thousands of fans surrounded the 18th hole, with tournament founder Jack Nicklaus sitting behind the green as he waited to greet the winner. Patrick Cantlay had a firm grip on the crystal trophy, just like he did two years ago the last time spectators roamed Muirfield Village.

It even rained, though not for very long.

But so much about Cantlay's playoff victory Sunday over Collin Morikawa made this Memorial unlike any of the previous 45 editions.

This was as much about who won as who didn't even play.

Cantlay, like everyone else at Muirfield Village, felt horrible than Jon Rahm went from tying tournament records — a 54-hole score of 18-under par and a six-shot lead — to being notified of a positive COVID-19 test that knocked him out of the final round.

What would have happened?

“Such a weird situation and so unfortunate because — me included — everyone knows it would have been a totally different day had that not happened,” Cantlay said. “But there's nothing I could do about it.”