Jon Rahm not thinking about legacy as he prepares for Masters title defence

Spanird moved to LIV Golf last year after his win at Augusta National

Jon Rahm during a practice round for the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Masters champion Jon Rahm accepted that his move to LIV Golf will probably have an impact on his standing in the game but said he had hoped his decision would help to reunite the game's top players.

The Spaniard moved to the rebel circuit last December while the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabian backers of LIV Golf were apparently working towards finalising a definitive partnership agreement.

Speaking at Augusta National ahead of his Masters title defence, world No 3 Rahm said part of his motivation to join LIV Golf was that it would play a role in bringing players together.

"I understood my position, yes. And I understood that it could be, what I hoped, a step towards some kind of agreement, yes. Or more of an agreement or expedited agreement," said Rahm.

"But unfortunately it's not up to me. But I would hope it would be something that would help expedite that process. But at the end of the day, I still did what I thought was best for myself."

Rahm accepted a reported $300 million to join LIV Golf eight months after his Masters triumph. The 29-year-old Spaniard acknowledged that decision will be likely to affect his legacy.

"Well, luckily it's still quite early in my career to be thinking about legacy. So it's not really something I have in mind constantly," said Rahm.

"I mean, will it change? Yeah. It's a bit of a detour on my path. But change can be better."

Rahm is one of 13 LIV players in the field this week, including seven who previously have won a green jacket. Augusta National also extended an invitation to Joaquin Niemann of Chile, who did not have the world ranking necessary to get in but won the Australian Open in December.

It is unclear whether a merger of the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia's PIF is any closer. They announced their "framework agreement" last year.

Until such a merger were to happen, the four majors are the only times the best players from LIV Golf will join the best of the PGA and DP World tours.

Norway's Viktor Hovland, one of the PGA Tour's rising stars, was asked what it was like to play again with Rahm, Brooks Koepka and other LIV players.

"They're certainly a couple of the guys out there that I miss and I think it's good that we get to meet and get to play against each other again," Hovland said. "Hopefully, everyone at home will enjoy seeing everyone kind of play against each other."

Meanwhile, five-time Masters winner Tiger Woods said his focus is on one more title at Augusta after years of health issues.

"If everything comes together, I think I can get one more," Woods said with a grin. "Do I need to describe that any more than that, or are we good?"

Two years ago, Woods made his return to competitive golf at the Masters less than 14 months after an accident nearly cost him his right leg. He made the cut at Augusta before finishing 47th.

Woods has since struggled to remain fit. After making the cut at the 2023 Masters, the third round was suspended due to rain and he withdrew rather than returning Sunday.

That led to ankle surgery later that month. Woods came back to play two unofficial events in December, but when he attempted to play in the February's Genesis Invitational, he withdrew early in his second round due to flu-like symptoms.

"I wasn't ready to play. My body wasn't ready," Woods said in response to a question about the Genesis. "My game wasn't ready. And I thought that when I was at (the Hero World Challenge), once a month would be a really nice rhythm. Hasn't worked out that way.

"But now we have major championships every month from here through July. So now the once a month hopefully kicks in."

Updated: April 09, 2024, 4:49 PM