Masters champion Jon Rahm has joined LIV Golf in a massive coup for the Saudi-funded breakaway.
The 29-year-old becomes the second current major champion on the LIV circuit after US PGA champion Brooks Koepka.
In a conference call on Thursday, Rahm looked to explain the reasons behind a decision which is set to again cause controversy within the sport.
I am proud to join @livgolf_league and be part of something new that is bringing growth to the sport. I have no doubt that this is a great opportunity for me and my family and am very excited for the future. pic.twitter.com/myf4isJgJ3
— Jon Rahm Rodriguez (@JonRahmpga) December 7, 2023
“Every decision I feel like we make in life there will be somebody who agrees and likes it and somebody who doesn’t, right,” Rahm said.
“I made this decision because I believe it’s the best for me and my family and everybody I’ve been able to talk to has been really supportive of me, so I’m very comfortable with my decision.
“I’m no stranger to hearing some negative things on social media or in media. It’s part of what it is, we’re public figures but you just learn to deal with it right? This certainly won’t define who I am or change who I am.”
Following confirmation of his switch to LIV, Rahm added in an official press release statement: “I am proud to join LIV Golf and be part of something new that is bringing growth to the sport.
“I have no doubt that this is a great opportunity for me and my family and am very excited for the future.”
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) October 1, 2023
Rahm played a leading role in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory in Rome this year – but joining LIV places his future in the contest in serious jeopardy as he needs to remain a DP World Tour member to be eligible.
Former LIV player Bernd Wiesberger recently rejoined the DP World Tour, but only after paying hefty fines and serving a lengthy suspension.
On his Ryder Cup future, Rahm said in the conference call: “My position with the Ryder Cup stands as it’s always been. I love the Ryder Cup.
“I’ve explained many times how meaningful it is to me and I surely hope I can be in future editions of the Ryder Cup.
“That’s not up to me right now, but if it was up to me, I’ll be eligible to play so I surely hope I can keep up the good golf, keep playing good golf and give them a reason to have me on the team.”
“It’s a big risk to take, but I’ve had it in consideration and again, I’m hopeful that I can be part of the team again.”
— LIV Golf (@livgolf_league) December 7, 2023
Rahm expressed his “fealty” to the PGA Tour in February 2022 and, in September that year, rubbished rumours that he would jump ship in reply to a post on Twitter which claimed he was about to sign for LIV.
The Spaniard had gone on record to state “my heart is with the PGA Tour”, but later admitted players felt a sense of “betrayal” at the secret deal which was negotiated between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which bankrolls LIV Golf.
Speaking ahead of the 2022 US Open at Brookline, the week after LIV had staged its first event, Rahm also said the 54-hole format held no appeal and hinted that he had turned down an offer of 400million US dollars (£315m) to switch circuits.
However, after signing on with LIV, the Spaniard said: “Obviously the past two years there’s been a lot of evolving on the game of golf, things have changed a lot and so have I.
“Seeing the growth of LIV Golf, seeing the evolution of LIV Golf and innovation is something that has really captured my attention.
“I think the growth that I’ve seen and how it’s become a global business, right, and how we can impact golf globally, and in a much meaningful way, is something that’s been very enticing.
“For all those things that I like about this movement, there’s always going to be some things that are not perfect, but that’s the situation in everybody’s life.
“With that said, it’s an ever-growing and ever-changing machine, right. So I’m hopeful that the leaders of LIV Golf might listen to some of my advice and maybe see some changes in the future for the better of the game.”