Is Jon Rahm About to Defect to LIV Golf
What on earth is Jon Rahm up to? Speculation that he is about to join LIV Golf has increased with the announcement that he is not in the field for the American Express Championship in January. What has got everybody talking is the fact that he is the defending champion.
He could end all the chatter by announcing that he has no intention of leaving the PGA Tour but there has been a deafening silence, indicating that there is more than a grain of truth in all of this.
He may be waiting until December 31, the date set for a peace deal between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf. If, as is widely expected, no deal is secured by that date, Rahm may well feel justified in deciding to defect.
Be under no illusions about this - Rahm’s defection would be a huge blow to the PGA Tour. It would also end his Ryder Cup career.
When blue-chip companies decide to sponsor prestigious golf tournaments they do so on the basis that world-class golfers will be in the field. This guarantees large TV viewing figures, ensuring maximum exposure for sponsors. And TV deals have been agreed on the same basis.
Lose the world’s best golfers from your tournaments and viewers will turn off in droves.
Trust me when I tell you that PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is losing sleep at the prospect of Rahm jumping ship. He is the reigning Masters champion, won four times on the PGA Tour in 2023 and was a star for Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team in Italy.
His departure would be a huge blow, especially when you consider that he has been one of the most vocal defenders of the PGA Tour and pledged his future to it.
The highest profile defections to date have been Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson. Most of the other players who made the move were at the fag-end of their playing careers, while many of the others are young golfers looking to cash in.
Smith, of course was Open champion when he made the move. He was and is a world-class player but one thing you could never accuse him of is being awash with charisma. To a lesser degree, the same applies to Koepka, a golfer who defied the odds in 2023 by nearly winning The Masters and then claimed the US PGA Championship and secured his place in America’s Ryder Cup team - the only LIV golfer on either side to do so.
But Rahm is a a proper draw card. He is an exciting golfer to watch and has a larger than life personality. And that is why LIV Golf want him on their books. It is rumoured that he is being offered hundreds of millions to make the move.
If unity really is on the cards, I struggle to understand why he would defect, but what do I know?
I have asked before how much money these guys actually need. Rahm’s PGA Tour career earnings stand at $51,546,651. He is 11th on the all-time list despite only turning professional in the summer of 2016. Remember that this is just what he has won on the course. Heaven knows what that sum is when you add in all his sponsorship deals and performance bonuses for winning the US Open in 2021 and The Masters in 2023.
Rahm talks about wanting to create a legacy and says that he cares deeply about the history and traditions of the game but if you believe what you read on social media, he has already signed for LIV. I struggle to accept that this is what he had in mind when he talked about his legacy.
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