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DUBLIN, Ohio — As golf attempts to get back to normal, you would have been hard-pressed to think things were not as they always were Sunday at Muirfield Village Golf Club for the final round of the Memorial Tournament.

Jack Nicklaus, tournament founder, host and 18-time major champion, took up his usual spot in the CBS-TV broadcast tower. He was there beside the 18th green to greet winner Patrick Cantlay, who outlasted Collin Morikawa in playoff. A robust crowd stood near the 18th green.

And those on hand and watching on TV could appreciated the drama, as Cantlay, Morikawa and Scottie Scheffler staged a daylong battle over Nicklaus’ course. A tournament so close it needed extra holes.

Of course, almost all were aware such a scenario played out only because Jon Rahm was in isolation somewhere after testing positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. It might not have dampened their enthusiasm, but it was nearly impossible to ignore.

Had Rahm been able to play Sunday, he would have needed only a 4-over-par 76 to win by a one shot. He led by six strokes and was 18 under before his world was turned upside down. The playoff participants ended 72 holes at 13 under. It was hard to envision anyone getting close to where Rahm stood after Saturday.

But Rahm had sit by like everyone else on Sunday, the shocking development hovering over the tournament like the rain clouds that added one more bit of intrigue as play was winding down.

“Such a weird situation and so unfortunate,” Cantlay said. “Because, me included, everyone knows it would have been a totally different day had that not happened. But there’s nothing I could do about it. I just tried as hard as I could to reset and get focused.”

Cantlay and Morikawa each shot 71. Cantlay won when Morikawa bogeyed the first playoff hole. Rahm could only watch — that is, even if he could bear to tune in.

Rahm shot 8-under-par 64 on Saturday, after having shot a 65 that included a hole-in-one at the conclusion of the second round earlier in the day. He looked dominant and seemed destined for a sixth PGA Tour victory and to inch closer to No. 1 Dustin Johnson in the Official World Golf Ranking.

It got wiped out due to the positive COVID-19 test.

For the past year, players have gone through numerous protocols and procedures in order to play professional golf. In April, the PGA Tour said it would allow players to forgo COVID-19 testing if they were completely vaccinated. Never had this happened, a tournament leader getting knocked out of the event.

Rahm was part of the PGA Tour’s contact-tracing protocols because he had been around someone who tested positive. That meant he needed to test every day. His tests on Monday through Friday came up negative. His test on Saturday came back positive. He had to be immediately removed from the tournament.

Three other times over the past year a player was removed from a tournament after having tested positive once the competition began: Nick Watney at the RBC Heritage last June, Denny McCarthy at the Travelers Championship and Branden Grace at the Barracuda Championship. Grace’s situation was similar to Rahm in that he was in contention.

But Grace didn’t have the lead, as Rahm did. Also, that event wasn’t nearly as prominent as the Memorial.

“I think we have all been really scared and we have all thought of this what-if scenario,” Morikawa said. “But that’s the thing with what-ifs. We can only think about it and think what we’re going to try and do, do that until it actually happens; and it’s very unfortunate for him to have a 6-shot lead and it’s kind of in his possession right there.

“Obviously, we know the risks. People know the risks of not getting vaccinated. It’s a personal choice. No one should be judged.”

Morikawa made it clear that he was disappointed Rahm was getting a hard time over his vaccination status.

Rahm this past week received a COVID-19 vaccine. But prior to doing so, he had been in contact with someone who tested positive, hence he was required to go through the Tour’s protocols.

That meant no access to the clubhouse, locker room or player dining. Although his status was not announced publicly, Rahm made it apparent to those he was with in the pro-am, playing partners and anyone he came in contact with of his status.

Golf has not missed a scheduled event since returning a year ago this week. There have been positive COVID-19 cases, to be sure, just like there have been in other sports, in all walks of life.

But there have been no major outbreaks, no huge spikes at any tournament. There was a bit of a scare in April when four players tested positive the same week after the tournament in New Orleans, but that turned out to be about the worst of it.

The PGA Tour made it to this point with no huge headlines — until Rahm.

He took the high road in the statement he released via Twitter, saying, “These things happen in life.” And undoubtedly, losing nearly $1.7 million in prize money — the take for winning — had to sting. But there was more: another victory and the momentum as he went into the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, seeking his first major title. Had Rahm won the Memorial, he’d have gone to San Diego a big favorite.

Now that is less clear. Rahm is subject to a 10-day isolation — unless he tests negative for two days at least 24 hours apart. Whatever happens next, for Rahm, Sunday’s final round at the Memorial played out with plenty of suspense despite the invisible asterisk that will go along with it.

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SVP’s ‘Winners’ for Week 4 in college football




SVP's 'Winners' for Week 4 in college football

4-5 last week. Fun sweats the last two weeks, but the picks aren’t good enough. We trust the process. Trust the grind. Trust the late night scribbling after some Tito’s and soda. That sound like someone whose advice you want? Someone who has no pick discipline and gives out 10 more? Because that’s who is talking here. Actually, I didn’t give out the games I like Friday — so, there’s at least a little restraint.

Saturday’s picks

No . 4 Florida State Seminoles (-2, 55) at Clemson Tigers
Noon ET on ABC, Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C.

Van Pelt’s pick: Clemson +2

Clemson plus the points from Florid State. If Dabo’s guys are any good — they gotta win this game. They don’t and their hopes are toast before the end of September.

SVP: First time picking Clemson in nine seasons of Winner$

No. 16 Oklahoma Sooners (-14.5, 57.5) at Cincinnati Bearcats
Noon ET, Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati

Van Pelt’s pick: Cincinnati +14.5

Historic Nippert Stadium is the site of the next nooner. Home team just lost to Miami … of Ohio. Visitors have scored 66 or more TWICE in three games. So … you know what to do. Take the home team and the points. Just cuz.

SVP: 3-1-1 all-time when picking Cincinnati

Army Black Knights at Syracuse Orange (-13.5, 49.5)
Noon ET on ACCN, JMA Wireless Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.

Van Pelt’s pick: Army +13.5

I love America and the people who defend it, and I love Army. Syracuse made me pay last week — but we’re going against them again with Clemson on deck against a team who is a pain in the butt to play.

SVP: 3-4-1 all-time when picking Army

No. 19 Colorado Buffaloes at No. 10 Oregon Ducks (-21, 69)
3:30 p.m. ET on ABC, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Ore.

Van Pelt’s pick: Oregon -21

Remember in high school when you were at a party and the keg was kicked, some neighbor called the cops and it was time to go? Feels like we could be there for Colorado. Better to leave the party half an hour early than a half an hour late. They are 21 point ‘dogs this week? 21? Buffs getting that many feels suspicious — laying them with the Ducks in Eugene. If Colorado wins this one then Vegas has done the worst job handicapping them through four games that I have ever seen.

SVP: 3-1 all-time when laying at least 21 points

Texas Tech Red Raiders (-6, 55) at West Virginia Mountaineers
3:30 p.m. ET on BIG12/ESPN+, Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, W.V.

Van Pelt’s pick: West Virginia +6

If I say Let’s Go Mountaineers — do you know the appropriate response? People in Morgantown do … let’s go drink some beers. West-by-God at home plus the points from Texas Tech in their Big 12 opener.

SVP: 3-4 all-time when picking West Virginia

Maryland Terrapins (-7.5, 52.5) at Michigan State Spartans
3:30 p.m. ET, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich.

Van Pelt’s pick: Michigan State +7.5

Happiness Hedge alert. Terps have fallen behind 14-0 the last two weeks at home — but came back to win easy. They play their first road game against a desperate Michigan State squad. Not sure what to make of Sparty — lot going on there — but the Terps giving MORE than a TD on the road feels high? Terps in a close one.

SVP: 2-3 all-time when picking against Maryland

No. 14 Oregon State Beavers (-3, 58.5) at No. 21 Washington State Cougars
7 p.m. ET, Martin Stadium, Pullman, Wash.

Van Pelt’s pick: Washington State +3

Board is loaded with great games — Paloose hosting one of the really intriguing matchups. Beavers and Cougars are both off to 3-0 starts. Oregon State is real, but I am on the home team to get to 4-0 in this Pac-12 showdown.

SVP: 3-2 all-time when picking Washington State

Appalachian State Mountaineers at Wyoming Cowboys (-3, 42.5)
7 p.m. ET on ESPN, Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, Wyo.

Van Pelt’s pick: Appalachian State +3

This one is a bit off the grid but is another fun matchup of awesome fan bases and teams. Shout to Dax Crum — if you know, you know — Wyoming is a very competitive 2-1. But they welcome a rugged outfit to Laramie — the boys from Boone. Went against them last week in a complete gong show game where they erased a big deficit to beat ECU. I am on App State on the road plus a small nibble in a game that needs to be on a screen in your home.

SVP: 2-3 all-time when picking Appalachian State

Mississippi State Bulldogs at South Carolina Gamecocks (-6, 48.5)
7:30 p.m. ET on SECN, Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.

Van Pelt’s pick: Mississippi State +6

Speaking of going against — after taking Mississippi State last week at home in a game where they got debacled — you might think I’d fade them on the road at South Carolina. You might — if you’re NEW here. Unflappable is my middle name, and we back them once again getting less that a TD on the road — that number stinks.

SVP: 8-8 all-time when picking Mississippi State

No. 17 North Carolina Tar Heels (-7, 50) at Pittsburgh Panthers
8 p.m. ET on ACCN, Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh

Van Pelt’s pick: Pittsburgh +7

Last game. Fighting Narduzzi’s are 1-2 and just lost the Backyard Brawl in a game they scored 6 points. If they score 6 vs. North Carolina, then this pick has no chance. But I like Pitt to make it a four-quarter fight and will take the points at home.

SVP: 12-4 all-time when picking ACC home underdogs at night

Ten picks. Twelve was too many, nine wasn’t enough. So, 10 it is. All free.

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Source: FSU down LT Scott, S Dent vs. Clemson




Source: FSU down LT Scott, S Dent vs. Clemson

No. 4 Florida State is down two key starters at Clemson on Saturday, as left tackle Robert Scott Jr. and safety Akeem Dent will both miss the game with injury, a source told ESPN.

The Seminoles did get one key player to return on their offensive line, as center Maurice Smith will start, a source said. Smith missed games against Southern Miss and Boston College with a lower-body injury.

Florida State has lost seven consecutive games to Clemson.

Scott is in his fourth season as a starting tackle for Florida State, earning second-team All-ACC honors last year as a left tackle. He is again expected to be replaced by Bless Harris, a Lamar transfer who is expected to make his fourth career start for the Seminoles.

Dent is a star safety who has missed 32 career games. He missed last week’s game at Boston College, which saw Florida State yield 305 passing yards to Thomas Castellanos. Dent suffered a left leg injury against Southern Miss in Week 2.

Smith is expected to make his 31st career start for Florida State, a vast majority of those coming at center. He was honorable mention All-ACC in 2022 and was twice named ACC offensive lineman of the week. He hasn’t played since the opening victory against LSU.

Florida State’s offensive line is one of the most experienced in the country, as it returned starters with more than 200 combined starts. That has helped Florida State (3-0) endure some of the early injury issues, as it won at Boston College without both Scott and Smith on the offensive line and Dent in the secondary.

Clemson (2-1) hasn’t lost a home game in ACC play since 2016, when it fell to Pitt 43-42 before going on to win the national title. Clemson’s home loss to South Carolina last year snapped a 40-game home winning streak.

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Sources: Utah QB Rising won’t start vs. UCLA




Sources: Utah QB Rising won't start vs. UCLA

Utah star quarterback Cam Rising will not start against No. 22 UCLA on Saturday as he continues his recovery from an ACL tear he sustained in the Rose Bowl, sources told ESPN.

Nate Johnson, the dynamic backup who leapfrogged Bryson Barnes on the depth chart, is expected to start his second straight game for the No. 11 Utes, sources said.

Rising’s availability against the Bruins is uncertain. He was given clearance to practice without limitation in early September and was given positive reports by coach Kyle Whittingham this week about how he looked in practice.

Rising has yet to play this season for Utah.

Johnson led Utah’s comeback win at Baylor two weeks ago, scoring the tying touchdown on a 7-yard fourth-quarter run. That performance led to Whittingham making the switch between the backups, and Johnson started and played well in a 31-7 victory over Weber State last week.

A 6-foot-1, 195-pound dual-threat quarterback with unusual speed for the position, Johnson threw for 193 yards against Weber State. On the season, he has three rushing touchdowns and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

Johnson has completed 68.8% of his passes, as he had a significant role as a change-of-pace quarterback in Utah’s first two games before becoming the starter.

Rising has led Utah to back-to-back Pac-12 titles, and his status has been one of the biggest questions hanging over the sport this month. Whittingham has told reporters that the medical clearance on Rising’s return isn’t up to the Utah medical staff.

Rising’s ACL was repaired by noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache, and earlier in the month, Whittingham told the Deseret News of ElAttrache: “The ultimate guy that says thumbs-up, thumbs-down for playing, and right now we don’t have that thumbs-up.”

Rising is one of the most accomplished players in the sport, as he threw for 3,034 yards with 26 touchdown passes last season before the injury in the Rose Bowl. With Rising under center, Utah has registered back-to-back 10-win seasons. Utah is 3-0 without him this year and plays UCLA in a battle of undefeated teams.

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