Jon Rahm confirms switch to LIV Golf in $500m deal

Reigning Masters champion had previously ruled out switching to the Saudi Arabia-funded circuit

Jon Rahm, left, and LIV Golf commissioner and chief executive Greg Norman in New York. AP
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Two-time major winner Jon Rahm has confirmed that he is leaving the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf in what is reported to be a deal worth around $500 million.

The reigning Masters champion had previously ruled out jumping ship to the Saudi Arabia-funded circuit but has now made a U-turn in what is a huge boost to LIV golf – and a body blow for the PGA Tour.

The 29-year-old becomes the second current major champion on the LIV circuit after PGA Championship winner 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.

“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.”

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 PGA Tour's total purse in 2023 was about $460 million.

The development comes 25 days before the deadline for the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund try to finalise their 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 moving part turned out to be 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 he has enough money and that he cares only about history and legacy. He recently said he “laughed” whenever he saw his name linked to LIV.

“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 US Open until 2031. Still to be determined is how the move affects his eligibility for the Ryder Cup.

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.”

Updated: December 08, 2023, 12:11 PM