2023 Masters champion Jon Rahm expected to leave PGA Tour for LIV Golf

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By journalsofus.com

2023 Masters champion and world No. 3 Jon Rahm is expected to leave the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf.

Barring last-minute changes, an announcement is expected on Thursday. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Rahm was set to join LIV on Thursday morning.

Rahm, 29, will be the PGA Tour’s first defection to LIV since the June 6 framework agreement between the PGA Tour and PIF. No formal agreement has been reached between the parties, who are working towards a December 31 deadline. And he will instantly become one of LIV’s top players.

According to the Official World Golf Ranking, Rahm has spent 52 weeks as the world No. 1 player and also won the 2021 US Open. He was tied for third in the PGA Tour’s PIP program, earning a $9 million bonus for his popularity in the golf world.

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The Spaniard has often been seen as the neutral side in the PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf verbal and legal wars, in part due to his close ties to many of the guys who have made the jump to the rebel Tour. Countryman Sergio Garcia is a friend, mentor and frequent Ryder Cup playing partner, while Phil Mickelson is also Rahm’s mentor. Additionally, Rahm was coached in college and initially represented after college by Tim Mickelson, Phil’s brother and current caddy.

In August, Rahm spoke to the Spanish golf podcast Golf Sin Etiquette and said that PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and other Tour leadership “have to earn trust again. When they say this tour belongs to the players and — Regardless of whether what they did was good or bad, regardless of the board of directors, Rory McIlroy or anybody that was there – they do that business with LIV, so they have to earn that respect again. “

However, Rahm has often been critical of LIV’s format – 54 holes with no cuts and a shotgun start. While OWGR indicated earlier this year that it might find a way to award world ranking points for such an event, OWGR declined LIV’s request due to the closed nature of LIV Golf’s 48-man roster. Gave.

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This should have a significant impact on the PGA Tour’s negotiations with Saudi Arabia’s royal investment fund PIF, which operates LIV Golf. The fate of those negotiations remains in doubt in the weeks and months since the hastily announced agreement, although Monahan said at the New York Times Dealbook summit on November 29 that he would meet with PIF Governor Yasser al-Rumayyan this week. “The deadline for our negotiations with the PIF is a definite goal,” Monahan said.

Additionally, the round has advanced discussions with other equity funds that could provide capital for a new, profitable product. It is believed that these funds could work either as an alternative to the PIF or in coordination with it, thereby alleviating the United States government’s concerns about the proposed deal.

So let’s rack our brains for a moment: The PIF wants a deal because it’s losing millions of dollars trying to prop up a league that has cheap names, a bad TV deal and almost no revenue. The PGA Tour has options, and probably wants to use them. So if you’re PIF, is it worth making another big cash outlay for one of the biggest names on the tour just to bring the tour back to the table and take advantage of the deal? And if you are Rahm, can you allow yourself to become a pawn in this game of power, picking up a giant check with the assurance that it ends with you and your compatriots somehow getting back together again? ? This is not madness.

But what if it’s not chess and is actually just checkers? Then the PIF again used its money to transform professional golf.

PGA Tour professionals are expected to receive equity in this new product, which is another step to close the gap between the earnings of top Tour players and the bonuses going into LIV Golf. Rahm earned $16.5 million from the course through the 2023 season and has career earnings of more than $50 million. But according to the Daily Telegraph, LIV is offering him $566 million, or $100 million more than the entire PGA Tour prize payout for 2023.

The terms of the original outline agreement suggested that the PGA Tour would control LIV and ultimately its destiny. But LIV has continued with business as usual, announcing its 2024 schedule earlier this month.

Rahm significantly expanded the talent roster for LIV, also giving the tour two 2023 major winners (along with Brooks Koepka) and three from the past two seasons (including Cameron Smith). Rahm has spent more weeks at No. 1 than any other golfer on the LIV Tour except Dustin Johnson. , Hugh Kellenbarger, Senior Managing Editor, Golf

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(Top photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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