Jon Rahm said he’s disappearing for a while. Here’s why that sparked confusion

John Rahm speaks after receiving the Dama Bilbaina 2023 award, in the halls of the Sociedad Bilbaina,

On Wednesday, Jon Rahm accepted an award at La Sociedad Bilbaina, in northern Spain.

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Six days after Jon Rahm announced at a New York City press conference that he was signing with LIV Golf, the Spanish superstar was back in his homeland earlier this week to accept an award from a prestigious sports and social club on Spain’s northern coast.

At least a couple of things were clear from Rahm’s visit to La Sociedad Bilbaina, in the Basque city of Bilbao, about a 20-minute drive south of Rahm’s hometown: He was humbled to receive the club’s Dama Bilbaina prize for outstanding sporting achievement but also taken aback by the number of media in attendance; as Rahm spoke in his native tongue to the assembled crowd, two microphones perched on a podium in front of him, he said that he had been expecting a more “intimate” affair.

But that’s not all Rahm said, according to a Reuters report — and this is where things get murky. On Wednesday, the news agency ran an unbylined story that said Rahm also made remarks at the ceremony about his plans to lay low for the next couple of months.  

“I am under very strict instructions not to do public events, which I have imposed on myself a little bit for myself, and for the change I have given to the world of golf in the last week,” Rahm said, according to a Reuters.

Rahm reportedly added of media interviews, “There will be nothing until February. I’m not allowed to.”

The reported comments raised eyebrows, because it wasn’t totally clear who wasn’t permitting Rahm to make appearances or talk to the press. Only himself? Members of his team? His new employer, LIV Golf? If the decision to hibernate was Rahm’s alone, why would he say he’s “under strict instructions” and that he’s “not allowed to”? One possible explanation is that Rahm’s comments had been translated from Spanish to English so all-important context could have been lost.

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But that’s not the only gray area. In 2022, the Wall Street Journal reviewed a draft of a contract that was offered to prospective LIV players, which included provisions such as players needing to receive approval to wear brands’ logos at LIV tournaments and that they also would be required to assist in LIV recruiting efforts. According to the Journal’s report, the contract also stated that players should refrain from giving interviews without LIV approval.    

Which brings us back to Rahm’s curious remarks. Had LIV muzzled him?

On Thursday, a LIV spokesperson told that Rahm’s comments had been “misinterpreted via the translation.” The spokesperson added that Rahm “is simply taking the rest of the month of December off from media (self-imposed, as he did state) to spend time with his family over the holidays in Spain. Nothing more.”

When asked whether LIV polices its players media access, the spokesperson — who also manages media requests for LIV — said that the league does not, and even if such a stipulation does exist in any player’s contract, it has never been enforced.

“No player sends me an email asking for approval to do press,” the spokesperson said. “They do what they want.”

If Rahm does wait until February to reappear in the public eye, he’ll likely do so in Mexico. The first LIV event of 2024 is at the El Camaleon course at Mayakoba, from Feb. 2-4.

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