Rahm leaving PGA TOUR to join LIV Golf
LIV Golf has made the biggest splash since its inception with Masters champion Jon Rahm confirming his jump from the PGA TOUR to the Saudi-funded circuit on Thursday.
The Spaniard's multi-year deal with LIV is worth €450 million, according to James Corrigan of The Telegraph.
"It's one of the reasons, I'm not going to sit here and lie to you. It's one of the reasons," Rahm said of his lucrative new contract, per Dan Rapaport of Barstool Sports.
LIV has long targeted Rahm due to his friendship with Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia and his international appeal as one of the top players in the world. He played for Mickelson's brother Tim at Arizona State, and the two pros share an agent. Rahm idolized Garcia growing up in Spain and is often seen playing practice rounds at majors with his countryman. They paired together at previous Ryder Cups, and Rahm has spoken out numerous times about his displeasure that Garcia was banned from the event after joining LIV.
However, the 29-year-old has always denied being interested in the move and said he doesn't like LIV's three-round, shotgun-start format.
"To be honest, part of the format is not really appealing to me. Shotgun three days, to me, is not a golf tournament, no cut. It's that simple," Rahm said in June 2022, per ASAP Sports. "I want to play against the best in the world in a format that's been going on for hundreds of years. That's what I want to see."
Rahm cited the growth of LIV as a reason why he changed his mind and made it clear he's not concerned with any backlash from switching course.
"The past two years there's been a lot of evolving in the game of golf and things have changed a lot and so have I," Rahm said. "Seeing the growth and evolution and the innovation is something that’s captured my attention and that’s why we’re here today."
He added: "I believe it’s the best for me and my family ... I'm very comfortable with my decision. Just learn to deal with it. It won't define who I am or change who I am. With experience you learn to deal with negativity better."
The chatter about Rahm joining LIV started growing stronger after he pulled out of the first season of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy's TGL golf league just eight weeks before its scheduled start. Rahm was one of the first four golfers signed on to the league but cited time commitments for backing out.
The move comes just weeks before the deadline for an official deal between the PGA TOUR and Saudi PIF to form a new for-profit company. The two sides reached a framework agreement in June but have yet to formalize any pact to end the battle between the two circuits. The initial deal featured a provision that LIV Golf would stop attempting to recruit PGA TOUR players, but it was later removed to satisfy Department of Justice provisions.
Rahm will get a new LIV franchise as part of the deal but wouldn't divulge who he'll team up with.
"We’re just going to have to wait and see," he said.
Rahm is coming off a brilliant season in which he won four times and became the first European ever to win the U.S. Open and the Masters. He's currently the third-ranked player in the world with 11 career PGA TOUR victories.