Jon Rahm LIV talks? Saudi deal changes? Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth questioned
Jon Rahm said he was not going to LIV Golf.
All the way back in February of 2022.
“This is my official, my one and only time I’ll talk about this, where I am officially declaring my fealty to the PGA Tour,” Rahm said, according to Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner. “… I have a lot of belief in (PGA Tour commissioner) Jay Monahan and the product that they’re going to give us in the future. There has been a lot of talk and speculation about the Saudi league. It’s just not something I believe is the best for me and my future in golf, and I think the best legacy I can accomplish will be with the PGA Tour.”
How much time do you have?
LIV launched about four months later. They fought with the Tour over players and prestige. They started a second season. Rahm stood by the Tour. Then in June of this year, LIV’s backer, the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, agreed to a tentative funding deal with the Tour. And it was a stunner. Only, that’s been mostly it. Today, the agreement is still being negotiated. And there are questions. Is it on? Is it off?
Is Rahm having a change of heart?
Last week, the Palm Beach Post’s Tom D’Angelo suggested that possibility, writing that “several outlets are reporting Rahm is in advanced talks with the Saudi-backed league for a potential $600 million.” It had been — and remains — a hot topic online. Could the world’s third-ranked player leave for LIV? What would that do to the deal? What about that previous quote? For his part, though, Rahm has remained mum recently, and a message to Rahm’s agent from GOLF.com has gone unanswered.
But two other players talked Friday, when asked about it all following their play at the Hero World Challenge. The first was one of the newest members of the Tour’s policy board, though Tiger Woods has also won 15 majors and 82 Tour events.
Woods was vague. And revealing. He was asked four questions.
Here was the exchange:
Reporter: “Tiger, there’s been a lot of chat again the last 48 hours of some big-name players going and signing for LIV.”
Woods: “I’m sorry, louder.”
Reporter: “In the last 48 hours, players signing for LIV. Does that surprise you?”
Woods: “The chatter or people leaving?”
Reporter. “People leaving.”
Woods: “I don’t — hypothetically would it surprise me, yes, but there’s so many different things that have happened in the last, as you said, 48 hours but also in the last few weeks. Things have changed and will continue to change. Our deadline’s coming up here soon, so there’s a lot of moving parts. A lot of different things are happening very quickly because we know, you know, I think today’s the first day in December; we don’t have a whole lot of time.”
Reporter: “You say it wouldn’t surprise you …”
Woods: “Well, nothing has really surprised me other than the fact that there’s so many different things that have happened so fast. That’s one of the things that all of our — all of us as player-directors we’ve been working on, just that everything is now at a time crunch. It’s 24 hours a day just trying to figure it out.”
Things have changed? Reporters in the Bahamas did not follow up there. The deadline we know; the agreement set it at Dec. 31. But there was also a hint of some recent developments — so many different things that have happened in the last, as you said, 48 hours. Is a deal close? Is it dead? Are there new partners? Are players leaving? Notably, the absence of information typically fuels speculation.
A bit later, Jordan Spieth stood before reporters. He’s the newest member of the Tour’s policy board, though Spieth has also won three majors. There were some specifics here. Along with a plea. And a defense.
He was asked three questions. Here was the exchange:
Reporter. “You just rejoined the policy board; that’s really the only reason why I’m asking. With all the rumors about …”
Spieth: “I what?”
Reporter: “You just rejoined the policy board. Honestly, the only reason that I’m asking, with all the rumors about Jon Rahm going around, if that were to happen, how would that impact the negotiations with the Public Investment Fund?”
Spieth: “I’m not sure specifically how it would impact those negotiations, but all in all, Jon Rahm is one of the biggest assets that we have on the PGA Tour. So it would be a really — really not very good for us in general because we want to play against the best players in the world and that’s what Jon is. I know there’s been some guys that have talked to him. I know he’s maybe weighing some decisions, maybe not. I really don’t know, so I don’t want to insult him and say he’s weighing decisions if he already knows he’s not or he is. You know, that’s somewhat out of my control in a way. Obviously I could speak probably on behalf of 200-plus PGA Tour players in saying that we really hope that he’s continuing with us.”
Reporter. “If you were going to try to convince Jon to turn down crazy money, what would you tell him?”
Spieth: “Again, like what’s weird is if he’s not considering it at all, which I really don’t know, then it would be an insult to be just playing this game with him to even answer these questions. He might be insulted by it. You know, I think for me, if it were me, and I don’t even know if I ever got an offer, but I like the way that I play four rounds of stroke play the same way we play the majors. I believe that we’re playing against the best players in the world, and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do is to play out here and try and catch PGA Tour wins, catch the legends of the game. It’s a history thing and the money’s a bonus.”
There was some detail in there, wasn’t there? Sort of.
It’s not news, of course, that Rahm is an asset. But some guys have talked to him? Interesting. Who? About what? He’s weighing decisions, though maybe not? What decisions?
And then came what could probably be called a PGA Tour mission statement.
At least we know where Spieth will be playing his golf.