LIV Golf League: Jon Rahm ’emotional’ to miss PGA Tour events but does not regret switch | Golf News

Jon Rahm has admitted he has missed the recent PGA Tour events but does not regret his decision to join the LIV Golf League.

Rahm, a former critic of LIV, is the highest-ranked player to join the league, after the world No 3 enjoyed an impressive 2023 that saw him win four times on the PGA Tour – including victory at The Masters – and be part of Europe’s successful Ryder Cup team.

The Spaniard is preparing for his second LIV Golf event this week, his first on American soil, after being part of the winning team that won in the dark on Sunday at Playa del Carmen in Mexico.

“It was a lot harder to be at home not competing and know that those events were going on,” said Rahm.

“Palm Springs and Torrey, those weeks were hard. I’ve explained so many times how important Torrey is for me.”

Rahm’s first PGA Tour win in 2017 was at Torrey Pines, which is also where he won his first major, the US Open in 2021.

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Butch Harmon believes Rahm’s departure might increase the urgency of the PGA Tour to form its Framework Agreement with LIV Golf

As the No 3 player in the world and the top box-office draw for LIV Golf, Rahm’s deal to join the circuit is understood to be worth up to £450m. This week, however, he is missing the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale, just a few miles from his home.

“Driving by Phoenix as often as I had to and knowing that I wasn’t going to play there, it’s definitely emotional. That’s one of the things that I’m going to miss,” he added.

“I’m not typically a person that’s going to regret any decisions. I made as educated a decision as I could with the full support of the people around me and [I’m] confident that it was the right thing for me, so I’m not going to regret it.”

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Rich Beem gave his reaction to Rahm’s dramatic move from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf

Although he was banned from competing in those PGA Tour events once he jumped ship, Rahm is hopeful he can compete in them down the road, especially if the PGA Tour merges with LIV Golf as negotiations with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund continue.

“I’m hoping that in the near future I can be back playing some of those events,” Rahm said. “I would certainly love to go back and play some of them.

“If there’s ever a way back and a way where we can play, even if it’s as an invite, I will take it. There’s certain events that are special to me that I would still love to support.”

Jon Rahm got his time at LIV Golf under way with a team win, finishing in third individually
Rahm got his time at LIV Golf under way with a team win, finishing in third individually

Rahm thoroughly enjoyed his first LIV experience last week as his team, Legion XIII, picked up the team victory while individually he finished in a tie for third.

“It’s definitely different. For people watching, the atmosphere, the music, it’s different, but I think it’s very entertaining. It gives the crowd a level of engagement that I wasn’t expecting,” he said.

“Everybody seemed really into the music and into the golf, and it was really fun to play before a crowd that was enjoying it so much.”

Thomas: LIV players should not return to PGA Tour ‘that easily’

World No 19 Justin Thomas is on the side of Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and others that LIV Golf players still should be penalised if there is an alliance between golf’s tours.

The PGA Tour is still in negotiations with the PIF, which financially backed LIV and got several big names to break away from the tour in 2022 and 2023.

The PGA Tour suspended those players indefinitely for playing on the LIV circuit, including Rahm in December.

Since then, a consortium of US-based sports franchise owners called the Strategic Sports Group has made an initial $1.5bn investment to become minority owner of PGA Tour Enterprises, the tour’s new for-profit wing.

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Former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley said there had been a ‘seismic shift’ in golf following Rahm’s decision to join LIV Golf

But if the PGA Tour and PIF do complete a deal, it remains to be seen how that will affect the future of LIV and its players. Northern Ireland star Rory McIlroy, once the fiercest critic of LIV, recently did a ‘180’ in saying that LIV players who wish to return to the PGA Tour should be able to do so without sanction.

“I would say that there’s a handful of players on LIV that would make the tour a better place,” Thomas, who won the PGA Championship in 2017 and 2022, said on Tuesday ahead of the WM Phoenix Open, live on Sky Sports.

“But I’m definitely not in the agreement that they should just be able to come back that easily.”

Thomas’ opinion follows those of close friends Spieth and Fowler, who have also made clear in recent days that they do not align with McIlroy’s sudden lenience.

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Rory McIlroy hopes the Ryder Cup rules surrounding LIV Golf players’ eligibility will be amended so Rahm can take part in 2025

Some players came out last year to say they believe the PGA Tour should reward members who did not take LIV’s money.

“I think there’s a lot of us that made sacrifices and were very – whether it’s true to our word or what we believe in or just didn’t make that decision,” Thomas said.

“I totally understand that things are changing and things are getting better, but, I would have a hard time with it, and I think a lot of guys would have a hard time with it, and I’m sure we don’t need to convince you why we would have a hard time with it.

“I think there’s a scenario somewhere, whatever it is, down the road of some kind of version of some guys being back, but when and what that is, I have no idea.”

Justin Thomas, of the United States, reacts to missing a birdie putt on the first green during the final round of the Hero World Challenge PGA Tour at the Albany Golf Club, in New Providence, Bahamas, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
Justin Thomas has been a critic of LIV Golf

PGA Tour Enterprises provides a structure to allow players to own equity in the tour.

Fenway Sports Group and other sports team owners and groups, including the New York Mets’ Steve Cohen and the Atlanta Falcons’ Arthur Blank, formed Strategic Sports Group (SSG) in order to engage with the tour about helping fund PGA Tour Enterprises.

SSG immediately stepped into the role of commercial adviser for PGA Tour Enterprises. The agreement calls for investment up to $3bn.

Thomas said he did not know whether SSG would try to make significant changes to the tour.

“Clearly this is something that they view as an investment, and to be able to have it grow – which is exciting as a player but also as a fan of golf because for that to continue to grow and get better, then our product is going to get better, which is going to be more fan friendly to watch,” Thomas said.

“Everything about it should continue to get better and more and more watchable and enjoyable and just people wanting to be fans of golf. That part of it is exciting to me, both as a player and as a fan.”

The PGA Tour continues on Thursday with the Waste Management Phoenix Open, live on Sky Sports Golf from 3.30pm. Stream the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and more on NOW.

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