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Why Should Ryder Cup Rules Be Changed For Jon Rahm

By: | Mon 11 Dec 2023

Golfshake's Derek Clements shares his latest View From The Fairway, where he comments on Jon Rahm's move to LIV Golf and Rory McIlroy's suggestion that the rules need to be changed to ensure the Spaniard is part of Europe's Ryder Cup team in 2025.

We regularly baulk at football transfer fees and complain about the obscene amounts of money received by men who spend their lives chasing after a soccer ball.

And what about the sums paid out to the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to drive a racing car? We shake our heads in disbelief when we hear that Tyson Fury is being lined up to fight a boxer we have never heard of and is paid £100m for the privilege.

The man or woman who wins the singles title at Wimbledon collects a cool £2.35m for two weeks work. It is all truly mind boggling.

Well golf has now joined that list. And how! The reported £450m paid to Jon Rahm to sign for LIV Golf is obscene. 

And I have to admit to being totally and utterly confused and bemused by it all. 

Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, has promised us that there will be a new framework announced by December 31. This will supposedly see a peace deal that will bring golf’s divided factions back together again.

So if that really is the case, what on earth do LIV think they are getting for their money?

It is true that Rahm is one of the best and most exciting golf talents on the planet but let’s not kid ourselves - he has done this purely and simply for the money after telling the world that he did not play golf for financial gain. 

I have no problem with golfers defecting but I do have some serious issues with an individual who, not so very long ago, told us that these 54-hole events with no cut were not what he considered to be proper golf. He pledged his loyalty to the PGA Tour and said he would never join LIV.

Where I do sympathise with Rahm and others like him is when you stop to consider the amount of time life on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour forces him to be away from home, away from his wife and two young children. 

Life as a top tour pro may seem pretty glamorous but it also has to be pretty exhausting - all the more so when you also take into account that the PGA Tour decrees that players must turn up to compete in specific events, and all the media commitments that go hand in hand with that.

But the top players are handsomely rewarded for their efforts.

Jon Rahm

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

One of the most fascinating aspects of Rahm’s defection has been the spectacular U-turn performed by Rory McIlroy. Anybody who follows golf will know that the Northern Irishman hates everything that LIV stands for and he was hugely vocal in making it clear that no LIV golfer had a place on Europe’s Ryder Cup team.

But he wrote the following on X: "We didn't NEED any of the others in Rome and we didn't miss them. We'd certainly miss and need Jon at Bethpage.”

The eligibility criteria for the 2025 European Ryder Cup team will not be announced until next year, with the qualification period not beginning for at least another nine months.

Speaking in the immediate aftermath of Rahm's move, McIlroy said: "Jon is going to be in Bethpage in 2025. Because of this decision, the European Tour [DP World Tour] is going to have to rewrite the rules for Ryder Cup eligibility.

"There's absolutely no question about that - I certainly want Jon Rahm on the next Ryder Cup team.”

So it is fine for an average player or somebody past their prime to join LIV and then be banned from playing in the Ryder Cup but a different set of rules should be applied to Rahm just because he happens to be one of the best golfers on the planet? That can’t be right, can it? And why should Rory McIlroy get to dictate who does or does not play? There is a bigger picture at play here.

It starts with the DP World Tour facing a serious quandary. They gave Rahm honorary life membership in 2022 as a reward for him winning the US Open the previous year. Will they now suspend him, as they have every other one of its members who defected? And will they strip him of his honorary membership?

On retaining his membership on both the PGA and DP World Tour, Rahm said: "I will not give that up and hopefully with the freedom that LIV Golf gives me I can play in both of those tours as well.

"I've expressed how important the Spanish Open is to me in the past, and if we ever reached that point [to play in] certain PGA Tour events, I still want to go and play as long as my schedule allows. So if possible, we'll see what we can make happen.”

I don’t see how it is possible to create a different set of rules for the Spaniard.

And no matter what the Saudis may say, this is not a financially sustainable model. How can it possibly be? They don’t even have a European TV deal and the viewing figures in the USA are dismal.

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) have so far ploughed an estimated $3 BILLION into LIV Golf. They allegedly offered Tiger Woods a figure approaching $1 billion to join the circus - remember that this is a golfer who has spent most of the past two years recovering from surgery and whose target now is simply to be fit enough to be able to play the equivalent of one tournament a month in 2024.

He would never have been able to complete even LIV’s schedule. They wanted him on board as a figurehead because they knew that if he signed on the dotted line then others were certain to follow. And they know that Woods still moves the needle.

Golfers at the end of their careers have been paid huge sums to put into their retirement funds while playing in events that nobody cares about or watches.

At least highly-paid Premier League footballers have to play in the region of 50 games a year when you add in Champions League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup and international appearances.

LIV golfers will next year compete in 14 three-round tournaments. A few of them will also be teeing it up in four majors. They will spend the rest of the year counting their money but I do wonder if it has been worth all the upheaval.

It may be golf but not the game as I know it. And definitely not the sport that I love.

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

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