Jon Rahm still not sold on PGA Tour’s new schedule requirements
Nearly two months after the PGA Tour announced its top players committed to playing 20 events next season, Jon Rahm is still worried about how much golf he will have to play.
“We have those 20 events to play for the PGA Tour and then you need to add three or four more for the European Tour, right, plus the events you want to play,” Rahm said outlining his schedule. “You don’t want that number to get too high and for us to play more golf than we want to play before the Ryder Cup or after the Ryder Cup.
“You want to have the proper time off as well.”
Rahm must maintain his DP World Tour membership to play in the Ryder Cup. This isn’t the first time he’s expressed uneasiness about his ability to do it.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes, because that puts me in a difficult position,” Rahm said the Friday of the Tour Championship, the week the changes were announced.
As a “top player,” Rahm will be required to play in each of the PGA Tour’s 13 elevated events (the three invitationals, three playoff events, Tournament of Champions, WGC-Match Play, the Players and four rotating events reportedly to be announced this week), the four majors and three other FedEx Cup events of each player’s choosing.
Players can play in as few as four DP World Tour events, as long as three are Rolex Series events and one is in the player’s home country, to maintain membership. Otherwise, they must tee it up in six DP World Tour events to still be a member the next season.
Rahm played 19 events on the PGA Tour in 2021-22, including one in the fall, while making just three DP World Tour starts so far, excluding the majors and WGC-Match Play. After this week’s event in Mallorca, three events remain on this season’s DP World Tour schedule, including the DP World Tour Championship, which would satisfy Rahm’s membership requirement.
The Genesis Scottish Open, which is co-sanctioned by the PGA and DP World Tours, is not expected to be an elevated event, meaning Rahm can use it to count toward his Rolex Series event requirement and as one of his three other FedEx Cup events.
“If I go play in Europe in the fall like I’m going to — I have to play from January until August 20 times,” Rahm said at East Lake. “I think this is my 17th from January, and I don’t think I could add any more. So yeah, especially with Ryder Cup and having to play four in Europe, yeah, I think it’s a bit of an ask, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they revise a bit of a rule or make an exception for some players.”
“But if they do it for players like me and Rory [McIlroy], they might have to do it for everybody.”
The last bit was interesting as McIlroy is in the same boat as Rahm, but was one of the players, along with Tiger Woods, behind the players meeting in August where this commitment to get the PGA Tour’s top players in the same fields more often was made.
And two months later, it seems the discussions to work out an arrangement to quell Rahm’s fears haven’t happened.
“I think there’s going to be some discussions to be made in that sense, but I also say last year from Tournament of Champions until East Lake I played 19 events,” said Rahm, who’s coming off his third career victory at the Open de Espana two weeks ago. “I think this will count as one of my 20. It could be very similar to last year, it won’t change. My schedule’s been pretty similar every year.”
This week’s CJ Cup in South Carolina will count as one of the three additional FedEx Cup events for Rahm, who also expressed concern about playing the weeks following majors. Two of the reported additional elevated events for next season are the RBC Heritage and Travelers Championship, which are played the weeks after the Masters, and U.S. Open, respectively.
“We’ll deal with it. It is what it is. A lot of people play the weeks after majors,” Rahm said Tuesday, adding his wife, Kelley, will be happy to return to Hilton Head, the site of the Heritage. “They’re all amazing golf courses, all amazing events, a lot of history, all of them. So they’re worthy of it. Hilton Head and Travelers after majors? I’m not keen on playing after a major, but I’ve seen people do it and I’ve seen people do well, so there’s no reason why you can’t.”
Starting next year, the PGA Tour will shift back to a calendar year schedule ending in August, which means Rahm won’t be able to move any of his three other FedEx Cup events to the fall like he’s doing this week. The reasoning behind the change was to allow players more freedom to either relax in the offseason or play in Europe.
There were just two weeks between the Tour Championship and this season’s opener at the Fortinet Championship.
“I think you manage your own time obviously. I have three weeks off after this week and I can guarantee you next week I will not see a golf course,” Rahm said. “Last year I took some time off in the fall and I really, really enjoyed it. It will be nice to have again something like that. It would be an ideal future and an ideal — in an ideal let’s say golf schedule, in my mind we would have September [and] on off. That would be amazing. Like every other sport, have a nice break, but I understand golf is different and you have to work things out.
“Ideally, yeah, three to four months off. I don’t know if I could do it because I’ve never done it, but on paper, it sounds amazing.
“Right now I spend a lot more time in hotel rooms than I do in my own bed, so it would be nice to balance the scales a little bit. But at the same time, it’s what we signed onto, so I can find time off throughout the year. When the schedule is ever changing, it’s hard to find it, but you can find time off.”