The Spaniard Jon Rahm changed sides 24 days before the end of the negotiation deadline between the PGA and the LIV Tour and will be paid from Saudi Arabia in the future. The decision of the best golfer of recent years has potentially enormous implications for the future structures of the sport. The US Open and Masters winner made his decision public on Thursday in an interview on Fox News and a short post on Instagram.
Numerous media outlets had previously reported on the upcoming move and estimated the value of the three-year contract at between $300 and $600 million. According to the US news agency AP, the 29-year-old Rahm could earn more than the PGA Tour currently pays out in prize money across all of its events. In 2023 there was a total of around $460 million to be earned on the PGA Tour.
Rahm: “LIV Golf can offer tempting things”
Rahm himself did not want to answer the question about his earnings in the interview on Fox News. “I was happy,” he said in a black varsity jacket with the LIV logo, referring to the PGA Tour. “But there are some things that LIV Golf can offer that are very tempting.” He emphasized that he still doesn’t play golf for the money, but that he has an obligation and responsibility as a family man.
The LIV has caused enormous unrest in recent months and persuaded players to move with guaranteed salaries worth millions. In June, the three golf series PGA, LIV and the European DP World Tour jointly announced that they had reached a “groundbreaking agreement to unify golf” and would work together in the future. Accordingly, the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund PIF (Public Investment Fund), which was previously involved in the LIV Tour, will now also be a partner and financier of a new joint organization. However, there has been no binding agreement since then; the self-imposed deadline expires at the end of the year. It is impossible to predict what Rahm’s move will mean for the negotiations.
Posing in a new outfit: the Spaniard Jon Rahm: Image: AP
Before Rahm, among others, five-time major winner Brooks Koepka, US Open and Masters winner Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau (all USA), who won the US Open 2020, switched to LIV. The German PGA Championship and US Open winner Martin Kaymer also plays on the LIV tour. The first really big name was Phil Mickleson.
Rahm, who won the Masters this year and the US Open in 2021, two of the most important golf tournaments, has been one of the absolute top players for years. In the past he had always described a change as uninteresting and pointed to tradition and the greater importance of success on the PGA Tour.
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Rahm will also be able to take part in the world’s most important golf tournaments in the coming years. He has a lifetime right to compete in the Masters. He will be eligible for the PGA Championship and the Open Championship for four more years and for the US Open for another eight years.
It is unclear what the change means for participation in the Ryder Cup. Rory McIlroy, who has been one of LIV’s harshest critics in the past, spoke out on Thursday in favor of allowing Rahm to take part. “This is not a question. I want Jon on the next Ryder Cup team,” said the Northern Irishman.