Everything Jon Rahm said about LIV Golf before U-turn: ‘I’ve never liked the format’

The Spaniard has joined the Saudi-backed breakaway series having previously been a vocal critic

Harry Latham-Coyle
Friday 08 December 2023 10:05 GMT
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<p>Jon Rahm has joined LIV Golf </p>

Jon Rahm has joined LIV Golf

Jon Rahm has become another high-profile defector to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.

The reigning Masters champion has signed up for the breakaway tour in a deal reported to be worth up to £450m.

The Spaniard’s decision comes as a major blow to the PGA Tour, who are in negotiations with the rival series over a possible merger.

Rahm’s news comes after months of speculation and despite the Ryder Cup winner previously being a prominent critic of LIV Golf.

While the money on offer is obviously significant, the Ryder Cup winner had suggested that a mega-money deal would not change his lifestyle and insisted that he played “for the love of the game”.

“Would my lifestyle change if I got $400m? It would not change one bit,” Rahm said. “Truth be told, I could retire now with what I have made and live a very happy life and not play golf again.

“I play for the love of the game, and I want to play against the best in the world. I’ve always been interested in history and legacy, and right now the PGA Tour has that.”

Rahm is friendly with Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson, who were among the biggest names to join LIV soon after the controversial events launched in 2021.

Jon Rahm has joined LIV Golf

While PGA Tour events are played over four rounds, LIV competitions are contested over just 54 holes with no cut.

The events also begin with a “shotgun start”, with each group starting on a different hole.

“Shotgun [start] with three days to me is not a golf tournament, no cut,” a sceptical Rahm said when asked about LIV’s format. “It’s that simple. I wanna play against the best in the world in a format that’s been going on for hundreds of years.”

Rahm added in August: “I laugh when people rumour me with LIV Golf. I’ve never liked the format. Phil [Mickelson] respects my decision, and I respect his (choice). He has told me that I have no reason to go play for LIV, and he has told me that multiple times.”

The 29-year-old, who secured his first major at the 2021 US Open, has also advocated for any defectors who return to the PGA Tour to receive some kind of punishment.

“I can understand people on the PGA Tour not wanting [LIV players] back,” Rahm explaiend. “I can also understand why some of them want to come back. There’s some great events a lot of people probably want to play again, some great golf courses as well.

“I do believe some punishment should be in order but I don’t know what - I’m not a politician. That’s not my job. That’s for the disciplinary board and other people that are paid to do that. My job is to hit the golf ball and try to do the best I can.”

Rahm’s Team Europe colleague Rory McIlroy, another vocal LIV critic, has suggested that Ryder Cup rules may have to be changed to allow a key member of Luke Donald’s winning team in Rome to be eligible for the 2025 edition at Bethpage Black.

Rory McIlroy (right) says Jon Rahm must be part of Team Europe at the 2025 Ryder Cup

Donald took the captaincy after the role was stripped from LIV defector Henrik Stenson, while Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood were among the European stalwarts with no role in the eventual victory at Marco Simone Golf Club.

“Jon is going to be in Bethpage in 2025,” McIlroy told Sky Sports. “Because of this decision, the European Tour is going to have rewrite the rules for Ryder Cup eligibility. Absolutely. There’s no question about that. I certainly want Jon on the next Ryder Cup team.”

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