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Will Jon Rahm REALLY Join LIV Golf

By: | Fri 24 Nov 2023

Just when you thought the routinely tumultuous world of golf was ready to take a breath and settle into a cosy winter, the rumours of Jon Rahm making the eye-wateringly lucrative jump to LIV Golf resumed across social media this week.

Coming days after the flagship DP World Tour Championship concluded in Dubai, word spread online that the Spaniard was in negotiations and ready to sign-up to the breakaway circuit whose existence has (to put it mildly) divided opinion since its debut last year.

Following the rumble on whatever Twitter is called these days, instigated by the influential account Flushing It, reports on bunkered appeared to verify the claim that the reigning Masters champion was potentially set to cause shockwaves by joining LIV, albeit that suggestions that it was imminent were "wide of the mark."

Mail Sport's Riath Al-Samarrai has written that sources close to Rahm had dismissed the idea last weekend, and that a senior figure at the DP World Tour had told the outlet on Sunday: "I really don’t see that happening."

Despite his repeated public statements to the contrary, there have long been murmurs surrounding the 29-year-old, likely fuelled by his closeness to LIV star and six-time major winner Phil Mickelson -  in addition to a blossoming relationship with Sergio Garcia that grew immeasurably due to their successful Ryder Cup partnership.

Mickelson was accused by journalist and author Alan Shipnuck of pushing the rumours of Rahm's apparent change of direction throughout informed circles, but the American has denied that charge and claims to be unaware of what may happen in the future.

Those who have purported Rahm's increasing willingness to join have stated that any delay is not being held up by financial issues (LIV reportedly previously offered him a fee of $400m to sign up) but rather by a desire to change the league's format that has failed to meet the criteria for Official World Golf Ranking points.

Jon Rahm

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

Will the former world number one leave the establishment of the PGA Tour and jump ship to LIV Golf? Ultimately, as it stands it remains simply speculation, and like most other things in the game these days, there are claims and counter-claims that muddy the waters and create a degree of mistrust and cynicism.

Rahm himself hasn't been shy in commenting on the subject of LIV - regularly declaring that he isn't primarily motivated by money and that he is not a fan of the format.

Last December, he said: "It [money] is not why I started playing, it’s not the reason why I play. So when I’m doing my schedule, when I’m practicing and I’m getting my things done, money is not really on my mind. If it was, I probably might have gone to LIV, right? If money is your goal, that’s clearly the path to go down. Every decision I make when it comes to golf is to become the best player I can become."

Just three months ago in August, Rahm told the Golf Sin Etiquetas podcast: "I laugh when people rumor me with LIV Golf.

"I never liked the format. And I always have a good time with Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia in the practice rounds of majors. Phil respects my decision, and I respect his. Mickelson has told me that I have no reason to go play for LIV, and he has told me that multiple times."

All of that would make such a dramatic shift appear unlikely - but you just never know in this present soap opera. Crucially, Rahm himself hasn't publicly denied this week's chatter, but perhaps he doesn't feel the need to.

The bigger question is arguably what Rahm joining LIV would mean for the game as a whole.

Unquestionably - it would be a seismic loss for the PGA Tour. The Green Jacket is the most iconic symbol of golf - particularly in the United States - and seeing the incumbent Masters champion depart would be a significant blow during a time when the tour has been courting fresh financial partners and backers from corporate America.

That jeopardy may have been heightened as the 'framework agreement' between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund is scheduled to expire at the end of this year, meaning that time to complete the merger that would seemingly unify the men's professional game is running out.

Whether Rahm joins LIV Golf or not - the deeper issues surrounding the sport remain with little clarity about what the landscape will look like in 2024 and beyond.

Everyone is simply guessing at this point - with no solution that will please everyone being obvious. The one thing that is clear is that the current situation has led to diminishing returns - for viewers and golf fans. 

The elite players are becoming richer by the minute while the overall product (across the board) is becoming poorer. In this out of control world of golf where nothing makes sense anymore - that is the most glaring of contradictions.

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Tags: PGA Tour LIV Golf FedEx Cup european tour dp world tour daily picks

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