Jon Rahm is leaving the PGA Tour in favor of LIV Golf after rumors of his departure started to circulate roughly two weeks ago.
Multiple sources, including ESPN, Wall Street Journal, and the Athletic are all reporting Rahm has agreed to terms with LIV and while there is no confirmed dollar figure that the two parties agreed to for his commitment to the PGA Tour’s rival promotion, the amount has been reported to be between $500 million and $600 million.
Breaking: Masters champ Jon Rahm has agreed to leave the PGA Tour for the LIV Golf League, sources confirmed to Mark Schlabach.
The deal’s believed to be more than 3 years and is reportedly worth more than $300M plus an ownership stake in a new LIV team, according to sources. pic.twitter.com/UYvn65YylC
— ESPN (@espn) December 7, 2023
Speculation regarding Rahm’s departure started in late November, when the first rumors were reported by Flushing It, who stated that the Spaniard and two-time Major Champion was considering a move.
Last week, things took a drastic turn as more people familiar with the matter started to state that the announcement he would join LIV was imminent.
After LIV Golf confirmed Rahm’s move to its tour, the big picture of golf has changed significantly, as he is one of the best players in the game, and has been one of LIV’s main targets when it first launched competition two seasons ago.
Backed by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF), LIV has been able to sign some of the world’s biggest names for monumental sums of money. PGA Tour mainstays like Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Cameron Smith, and Dustin Johnson all took at least $100 million, according to reports. Mickelson’s figure was closer to $200 million.
Rahm’s move is especially groundbreaking because of his status as one of the world’s top two players. Coming off of a PGA Tour season where he won four tournaments and one Major Championship at The Masters in April, Rahm is at the top of his game and he is consistently at the top of leaderboards. Scottie Scheffler is the number one player in the world, and while Rahm is second, there have been several occasions over the past year where he’s overtaken Scheffler for the top spot.
Rahm will hold an exemption in all four Majors, which means he will be appearing at the tournaments even if his OWGR falters due to LIV not receiving points toward the index. Being that he will appear at the Majors, LIV now has an opportunity to flex its muscles with rankings systems because two of its players hold the Majors going into 2024, with the other being Brooks Koepka who became the first LIV Golfer to win a Major, which he did at the PGA Championship in May.
LIV Lands a Heavyweight
There is also the chance that Rahm’s influence as a top player could hold weight in the ongoing discussions that the PGA Tour is holding with the PIF. Many have speculated that when a deal is reached, LIV Players will be able to return to the PGA Tour and compete in its events. But Rahm’s decision to join LIV could help things move along, especially as a fan favorite and one of the more popular players in the world.
There is a major needle mover with Rahm, and LIV’s roster, if not considered already impressive, now features a true heavyweight in the current golf landscape. It is a major win for LIV, and the PGA Tour is likely wondering what it can do at this point to stop the bleeding.
Rahm is not the only name that was rumored to be on their way to LIV over the past two weeks. Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, and Patrick Cantlay have also been names that were discussed, although each of those players has already committed to the American Express, a PGA Tour event scheduled for mid-January.
The PGA Tour Moving Forward
The Tour will be forced to scramble to keep more players from leaving and joining LIV Golf. Rahm was a main target of LIV for two years, and eventually, the PIF was able to find a number that convinced him to jump ship. There is only a matter of time before this happens again, which is a near certainty considering LIV has been able to sign a number of the world’s biggest names.
Offering new bonuses, elevated events, and other strategies was not enough for the PGA Tour to convince some to stick around. The moral angle is enough for some, as players like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who likely could not be swayed by any dollar figure. Reports early in LIV’s development stated that Woods was offered between $750 million and $1 billion for his play. It was not enough.
Golf fans everywhere are wondering who will be next, because Rahm at one point said he was not interested in joining LIV.
🚨👀🔙 #LOOKING BACK — Jon Rahm ripped LIV: “Shot gun 3 days to me is not a golf tournament , no cut. I wanna play against the best in the world in a format that’s been going on for 100s of years. Would my lifestyle change if I got $400M? Not one bit.” pic.twitter.com/wPyPLDV8Or
— NUCLR GOLF (@NUCLRGOLF) December 7, 2023
“Obviously there’s some things in life, some values that I believe in that I might judge if you compromise, but that is your choice to do with your career,” Rahm said in May. “It’s your life, it’s your family. You do whatever you want.”
Just seven months ago, Rahm talked about judging core values based on decisions made by his colleagues, but eventually, money talked. It is hard to turn down that sum of money, especially when most of it is guaranteed, and it will take care of generations.
It is proof that golfers will say one thing then eventually do another, and they cannot be blamed for their decision. They are playing more golf for less money on the PGA Tour.
The Tour will attempt to maintain the loyal members who have fought to keep it as the top promotion in professional golf.
Cover Image via AZCentral