Two-time major champion Jon Rahm joined LIV Golf on Thursday, Dec. 7. The Spaniard signed a deal reportedly in excess of $300 million, another hit for the PGA Tour as it races the clock to finalize an agreement to ally with the Saudi-backed league.
“Well, every decision I feel like we make in life, there (will) be somebody who agrees and likes it and somebody who doesn’t,” Rahm said. “I’ve made this decision because I believe it is 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 the) media, so it’s part of what it is. We’re public figures, but just learn to deal with it, right? It certainly won’t define who I am or change who I am, so I think with experience you just learn to deal with negativity a little bit better.”
“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,” added Rahm.
LIV previously enticed Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and others from the PGA Tour with huge paydays, but adding Rahm—the No. 3 player in the world and an immensely popular player among fans—is a severe hit for the tour.
“LIV Golf is here to stay,” LIV COO Lawrence Burian said in a statement. “The addition of Jon reemphasizes that our League is not slowing down. We are continuing to invest and build aggressively for LIV’s long-term and exciting future.”
The Wall Street Journal was first to report the Rahm defection, with ESPN and Sports Illustrated later confirming it before the announcement was made publicly.
While overseas media valued the deal at $600 million, ESPN said Rahm’s LIV contract is expected to be for more than three years and worth more than $300 million.
Under the terms, LIV also will add a 13th team for Rahm to helm and give him an ownership stake. ESPN added that LIV is recruiting more PGA Tour players to add to Rahm’s team.
Details about Rahm’s team “will be announced at a later date,” LIV said in a press release.
In June, the PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia announced an agreement to join forces, and there’s a Dec. 31 deadline to seal the deal. How Rahm joining LIV’s roster will impact the alliance isn’t clear.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan were previously scheduled to meet next week. Monahan has called the Dec. 31 date “a firm deadline” for a final agreement.
“We can’t speak for decisions that any individual players might make,” the PGA Tour said in a statement Thursday, “but based on the momentum of the past season and strength of the PGA Tour, along with the accelerated interest from and negotiations with a number of outside investors, we are in position to make our players equity owners and further allow the tour to invest in our members, invest in our fans and continue to lead men’s professional golf forward.”
Rahm, 29, won the 2021 U.S. Open and the 2023 Masters, two of his 11 PGA Tour victories. He completed his most successful season this year, winning four events.
The Spaniard, who helped Team Europe win the Ryder Cup this fall, has career earnings on tour of $51.5 million since joining in 2016. His rumored LIV contract would dwarf that amount.
“Jon has consistently validated that he is one of the top players in the world. He’s a generational talent who has proven his merit as a multiple major champion and tremendous ambassador for global golf by placing the game ahead of himself,” LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman said in the news release. “There are very few athletes with his pedigree of talent, leadership, poise, and commitment to bringing progress to the sport on a worldwide stage. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Jon to the LIV Golf family as the league continues preparations for a huge 2024 and beyond.”
Perhaps with an eye toward joining LIV, Rahm recently pulled out of the Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy-led TGL virtual golf league and has yet to commit to playing in January in the American Express in La Quinta, Calif., where he is the defending champion.
McIlroy nonetheless tried to quash speculation last month that Rahm would defect to LIV.