The favorite for this week's The American Express is no longer in the golf tournament as Jon Rahm withdrew from the field on Monday. Rahm won this tournament in 2018 and was (by far) the highest-ranked player originally in the field. After withdrawing, Rahm gave a reason for his decision later in the week.
"Truth is, I hurt myself in the gym on Friday. I'm taking time off now trying to be smart. I could play right now but I don't want to make it worse," Rahm told SiriusXM Radio's Colt Knost. "I'm feeling good, just not 100%. I could play and make the cut, maybe even a top 20, but if I don't think I can win then no point in playing."
Rahm's manager does expect him to return next week at the Farmers Insurance Open, where he's a former champion.
Rahm competed in the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii two weeks ago and finished T7 following a torrid closing kick in 2020. Starting with the Memorial Tournament last summer, Rahm closed with eight top 10s in his last 12 tournaments worldwide, including wins at both the Memorial and the BMW Championship.
That run pushed him to his highest ranking ever to finish a calendar year (No. 2), and he currently trails only Dustin Johnson in the OWGR (albeit by a fairly wide margin). Rahm is the leader in strokes gained at this tournament over the last decade and finished sixth and first in his last two outings there.
Rahm came into 2021 with a lot of changes at hand. He announced over the holidays that he and his wife, Kelley, are pregnant with their first baby, he changed equipment and clothing sponsors from 2020 to 2021 and he comes into the new year with expectations that are higher than they have ever been on his already ridiculous career.
There is obviously a fantasy and gambling component to this news as well. Beyond Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka and Scottie Scheffler were favored to win this tournament, which is slated to feature neither amateurs (like it normally does) nor crowds. Additionally, the tournament will be played at just the PGA West Stadium Course and PGA West Nicklaus Course. La Quinta Country Club has been taken out of the rotation as it's not needed because the field has essentially been cut in half with the pro-am portion removed.