Jon Rahm knew there was something special in the air at Torrey Pines on Sunday.
He was right: Rahm became the fourth Spaniard overall to win a major tournament on Sunday, following Seve Ballasteros, José María Olazábal and Sergio Garcia, and the first to win the U.S. Open after his victory in California.
But special performance aside, the 26-year-old golfer spent most of his post-tournament trophy presentation talking about the reality of living in a coronavirus-stricken world, praising the “power of positive thinking.”
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Rahm, who recently was removed from a tournament after a positive COVID test, said he harbors no ill will for the decision to withdraw from the Memorial, and spent time dedicating his win to a family friend who died from coronavirus.
This is the power of positive thinking. I was never resentful for any second for what happened. And I don’t blame anybody. This is — It’s been a difficult year, and unfortunately COVID is a reality in this world and it’s affected a lot of people. And I got, out of what happened, the best possible hand, because nobody in my family got it, I barely got any symptoms.
I have to mention, we lost a lot of people back home. We lost some friends. And this one is to a friend of mine, who was a journalist, who had just started getting into golf and he was basically following me around the world of golf. When he started, he had no idea what golf was, and he passed away a few months ago from COVID.
It was very quick. From the time he got it, he went to the ICU and passed away. Like him, there’s many people in this world. I know what happened a couple of weeks ago, some people might say it wasn’t fair, but it was what had to be done. We still have to be aware of what’s going on in this world. Take care of it yourself, and everyone around you, so we can get over it as quick as possible.
The journalist, José Manuel Cortizas, was primarily a basketball-focused writer in Bilbao, Spain. The newspaper reassigned him to follow Rahm and his career, and Rahm said he never “hesitated” on the new beat.
Cortizas was 58.
“He has, I believe, a 20-year-old daughter that now has no dad, and it happened extremely quick. It’s just sad. He was a great friend, a great family friend,” Rahm said following the Open.
“This right here [U.S. Open trophy] is definitely for him because he would have loved more than anybody else to be here covering this.”