Jon Rahm explains explosive LIV decision

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Jon Rahm explained the decision that brought him to LIV in a press conference on Thursday evening.


The press conference began like many LIV Golf press conferences, with a moderator issuing an introduction. But this wasn’t any LIV presser — this was a Zoom call. Just a bunch of faces and names in little neat boxes. About one minute in, one of those boxes flipped from a blank screen to show the face of Jon Rahm, the No. 3 player in the world, wearing a black LIV Golf letterman jacket. 

The visual wasn’t surprising — Rahm’s decision to join LIV had been reported by various outlets Thursday — but it was still striking. This was the first opportunity to see the golfer himself, and to hear him explain why he was possibly risking his Ryder Cup status, and his standing with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. 

“What [LIV] had to offer was maybe worth the risk of not playing a Ryder Cup,” Rahm said Thursday from New York City. He had been asked if he’d considered that he might be risking his future involvement.

“The decision, like I said, was for me and my family. So what I believe is the better path for me right now, it was worth risking the Ryder Cup.”

Rahm said that detail — playing in future Ryder Cups — was the biggest hurdle for him over these last few weeks, as he and his team weighed his options. It was “a few sleepless weeks” for those closest to him, he said. Rahm had gone silent publicly over those weeks, as rumors swirled online. His agent refused to respond to requests for comment. Those close to him clammed up. That alone speaks to the gravity of it. Rahm, a likely favorite to win PGA Tour Player of the Year honors, just pledged his golf to another tour.

“I think some people are gonna be texting me soon saying, ‘What the heck?’ Right?” Rahm said. “But it’s only understandable. But again, like I said, I believe most of my friends are going to have my back. And the very few that I’ve been able to speak to were pretty much like family, already support me. But it’s been tough. It’s been tough. It’s a topic of conversation that was out there on the golf course every single day. People making jokes, people thinking that they know what they’re talking about, this and that. It has been difficult to just focus on the task at hand and even just practice.”

The decision is no doubt difficult for Rahm in part because of how staunchly pro-Tour and anti-LIV some of this public statements have been over the last 18 months. Rahm went so far as to “pledge [his] fealty” to the Tour back in February 2022. In June 2022, he said that a “shotgun [start], three days [event] is not a golf tournament, no cut. It’s that simple. I want to play against the best in the world in a format that has been going on for hundreds of years.”

In August 2023, Rahm said that he laughs when people rumor him with LIV Golf, because he’s “never liked the format.” But now he’s signed on for that format — a league that plays 54-hole tournaments with shotgun starts and music coursing through the background. Somewhere along the way he changed his calculation. Still, he sounds keen to adjust LIV’s format if he can.

“Some things I can live with,” Rahm said. “With that said it’s an ever growing and ever changing machine, right? So I’m hopeful that the leaders of LIV Golf might listen to some of my advice and maybe see some changes in the future for the better of the game.

As for the obvious connections that might draw him to the league, Rahm said Phil Mickelson, a close confidante who left the PGA Tour for LIV in 2022, played no role in his decision. He said he had not discussed it with Sergio Garcia, a mentor who also plays his golf on LIV. He was not able to discuss it with Luke Donald, Team Europe’s Ryder Cup captain, nor was he able to discuss his DP World Tour future with anyone at that Tour.

Clearly, he has plenty of catching up to do. But for this moment, during the 30-minute press conference, he was facing the press. And he largely followed the party line of prior LIV pressers following PGA Tour exoduses.

Was this at all due to frustration with the PGA Tour? “I’m forever grateful for the PGA Tour and the platform that they allow me to be on,” Rahm said. 

How much of a factor did he consider the traditions of PGA Tour history; traditions and tournaments he so commonly cited?

“It’s obviously something that matters,” Rahm said. “But what’s even better than that is hopefully being a pioneer and being the ones that create the legacy that other people will speak of in the future.” 

Was the money a factor?

“It’s one of the reasons. Yeah. I’m not going to say here I lied to you. It’s definitely one of the reasons.”

As for the money, Rahm was also following the playbook. He refused to comment on the specifics of the deal — it has been reported worth at least $300 million over multiple years — but acknowledged that he is excited to be a partner of the league, an owner of a franchise and a captain of one of the teams. Pro golf is on the precipice of becoming player-owned, with private equity circling around, hoping to buy a stake in the PGA Tour, and LIV Golf already offering equity in franchises.

Right now, in this exact moment, December 2023, Rahm’s future is captaining a team. Naturally, Rahm was asked who might be on that team he’ll be captaining. To that, he was mum.

“You’re going to have to wait and see,” he said with an impish smile.

But do you know?

“You’re going to have to wait and see.”

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