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Jon Rahm acknowledges money factor as two-time major winner announces switch to LIV Golf

The world number three stated his goal remains to win as many majors as possible having previously said he had no intention of leaving the PGA Tour for the Saudi league

Jon Rahm
Jon Rahm, on November 19 in Dubai.Kamran Jebreili (AP)

“I am proud to join LIV Golf and be part of something new that is bringing growth to the sport. I have no doubt that this is a great opportunity for me and my family and am very excited for the future.” With this post on his X account, Spanish golfer Jon Rahm confirmed his signing for the Saudi breakaway league and his apparent departure from the PGA Tour, while waiting to see how negotiations between the two sides pan out ahead of a potential fusion for the organization of the sport and the exploitation of the business from 2024.

The only certainty is that Rahm has tipped the balance and handed LIV the advantage at a crucial juncture. The secrecy with which the PGA handled the agreement with LIV, announced in June, when Rahm publicly defended for the American circuit, infuriated the Spaniard, who also demanded greater proximity to the European circuit so that there would be shared tournaments, such as the Spanish Open. Those positions remained distanced and what were initial words of rejection toward the new Saudi project have been reversed into a signing that changes the landscape of the sport. At the same time, Rahm has put pen to paper on a deal reportedly worth up to $500 million, 10 times more than he has earned in seven years as a professional and more than the PGA Tour’s entire prize fund for 2023.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan had been scheduled to meet this week with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the head of the PIF, to discuss the framework agreement ahead of a December 31 deadline. The meeting was delayed until next week, but it wasn’t clear if it was still on or how Rahm’s announcement affects the negotiations.

Since the stunning commercial partnership was proposed on June 6, the tour has also entertained offers from private equity groups. Those include Fenway Sports Group and Acorn Growth, which includes former AT&T Chairman Randall Stephenson. He resigned from the PGA Tour board out of protest with its deal with Saudi Arabia.

The agreement originally included language to end the poaching of players, but that was removed when the Justice Department had antitrust concerns.

Signing with LIV is counter to everything Rahm has said about the league. He has declared his support for the PGA Tour dating to February 2022, and as recently as August he told a Spanish podcast that “I laugh when people rumor me with LIV Golf. I’ve never liked the format.”

He had said 54 holes with no cut and a shotgun start “is not a golf tournament.”

“My goal is still going to be to win as many majors as I can”

“I know there are people who won’t like it and won’t understand it. Any abrupt change like this generates different emotions, but is doesn’t change who I am. My goal is still going to be to win as many majors as I can. Now, instead of chasing records, I’m going to try to create a story from scratch for others in the future to try to beat. I’m very motivated to create this new history. Hopefully in the future there will be kids who want to beat the records I set,” Rahm told a group of journalists including the Spanish website Ten Golf. “There will be criticism, I know that and I will have to deal with it. Money is one of the reasons why I have taken this decision, I will not deny that it is an important one, but not the most important. I think the Spanish fans will understand my main motivation for going to LIV. It’s about the team, it’s something different, very special, being part of a team and creating a fan base. I’m [an] Athletic [Bilbao fan] and it’s more than soccer, it’s a religion. I would love to be able to create that fan base, it would be incredible, it makes me excited and it thrills me to think about it. Golf is an individual sport, but I am sure that victories are best enjoyed as a team. It motivates me a lot to be the captain and owner of a team,” he said.

Rahm’s decision to join LIV, however, provides several incognitos for the two-time major champion, including whether he will be able to participate in the Ryder Cup or will suffer the same veto as Sergio García for losing his membership of the European circuit. “I hope that doesn’t happen,” Rahm said. His qualification for the Paris Olympics may also be in jeopardy, as playing in the Saudi league will not earn him world ranking points, assuming the situation does not change. Meanwhile, Rahm intends to play at the Spanish Open and continue playing PGA Tour events, if permitted. By signing for LIV, he will lose his PGA Tour membership and will be unable to participate in its tournaments. He will be able to play European circuit events if he pays the relevant fines and the tournaments do not coincide with LIV championships.

“Nobody is forcing us to do this. This is our own choice,” Rahm said. “And if the product wasn’t good, I don’t think people would be making this jump. I certainly wouldn’t be doing it because, again, I have had a great platform on the PGA Tour and I’m forever grateful for the platform that they’ve given me. If lucky, and things go well in the future, I still want to be part of that platform.”

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