Masters champion Jon Rahm joining LIV Golf in a stunning blow to the PGA Tour
Masters champion Jon Rahm bolted for Saudi-funded LIV Golf on Wednesday for what’s believed to be more money than the PGA Tour’s entire prize fund, a stunning blow that deepens the divide in golf as the two sides were negotiating a commercial deal.
Rahm confirmed the move in an interview with Fox News, during which he wore a black LIV letterman’s jacket, saying it was not an easy decision.
“I’ve been very happy,” Rahm said. “But there is a lot of things that LIV Golf has to offer that were very enticing.”
The merger of LIV Golf and PGA Tour shows the lure of sports to launder a country’s reputation, in this case, Saudi Arabia and its human-rights abuses.
He said he would keep private how much the deal was worth amid reports that put his compensation in the $500 million range, which likely would include equity in his new team.
The development comes 25 days before the deadline for the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund try to finalize their shocking June 6 agreement to become commercial partners in a for-profit enterprise, along with the European tour.
Talks have been going slowly, and Tiger Woods said last week there were a lot of moving parts. The biggest move was the 29-year-old Rahm, the No. 3 player in the world and a two-time major champion approaching his prime, being the latest to defect.
Rahm had been adamant that has enough money, he cares only about history and legacy and only recently said he “laughed” whenever he saw his name linked to LIV.
The PGA Tour has essentially let Saudi Arabia, known for human rights violations, buy professional golf competition, columnist Bill Plaschke writes.
“It was a great offer. The money is great, obviously it’s wonderful,” Rahm said. “But what I said before is true: I do not play golf for the money. I play golf for the love of the game and for the love of golf. But, as a husband, as a father and as a family man I have a duty to my family to give them the best opportunities and the most amount of resources possible and that is where that comes in.”
He remains eligible for the majors for the next five years — the Masters for life, the U.S. Open until 2031. Still to be determined is how this affects his eligibility for the Ryder Cup.
Rahm’s addition gives LIV Golf seven of the last 14 winners at the majors.
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