BROOKLINE, Mass. — It might be a major week, but the challenge of the U.S. Open is far from the only thing top of mind this week at The Country Club.
With the LIV Golf Invitational Series officially off and running, a rift in pro golf is upon us. It’s a popular talking point this week — perhaps the most popular talking point — and nary a press conferences goes by without the subject coming up.
Are you Team PGA Tour? Or are you Team LIV Golf?
The questions aren’t posed in such black-and-white terms, but the implications are all the same. You’re either with ’em or you’re against ’em — choose a side. Harsh? Yes. But it’s a partisan world, and pro golf is no different.
Count Jon Rahm among those leading the charge for Team PGA Tour. He pledged his allegiance to the Tour back in February at the Genesis Invitational, and on Tuesday at the U.S. Open, he furthered his fealty to those in Ponte Vedra.
“The PGA Tour has done an amazing job giving us the best platform for us to perform,” Rahm said. “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.”
History and legacy is the main motivator for Rahm. And that’s a benefit that only the Tour can offer.
“There’s meaning when you win the Memorial Championship,” he said. “There’s meaning when you win Arnold Palmer’s event at Bay Hill. There’s a meaning when you win, LA, Torrey, some of the historic venues. That to me matters a lot.”
The defending U.S. Open champ pointed to his victory at Torrey Pines last summer as an example from his own career. His putt to win — on the same green that Tiger Woods provided one of the most iconic putts of his own career — is a memory that he will take to the grave. And that sort of history is not something LIV Golf has in its current form.
That’s not to say the Spaniard is frowning upon any of the players who have defected to the upstart league, though. He sees the benefits — huge purses chief among them — and won’t judge anyone for taking that path. It’s just not a path he plans to pursue anytime soon.
“For a lot of people, I’m not going to lie, those next three, four years are worth basically their retirement plan they’re giving them,” Rahm said. “It’s a very nice compensation to then retire and sail off into the sunset. If that’s what you want, that’s fine.”
Rahm’s biggest concern about the league? The implications it will have on the Ryder Cup.
PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh has said in the past that for players to play on the Ryder Cup team, they will need to be members of the PGA of America, which they get through their PGA Tour memberships. However, the future of these memberships is uncertain for those who defect. Some have resigned their memberships, while others have been suspended.
“I hope the Ryder Cup doesn’t suffer,” Rahm said. “I think the Ryder Cup is the biggest attraction the game of golf has to bring new people in. … I hope we don’t lose the essence and the aspect that the Ryder Cup is.”
As for Rahm’s allegiance, though, there is no mistaking which side of the aisle he sits.
“My heart is with the PGA Tour,” he said. “That’s all I can say.”