After nearly two years of being seduced by LIV Golf, Jon Rahm has finally decided to jump the PGA Tour ship for greener pastures. “Greener pastures,” in this case, referring to a contract reportedly worth anywhere between US$300 million and US$600 million (AU$455 million and AU$910 million).
While the two-time major champion has been a little more agnostic and a whole lot more diplomatic about the Saudi-backed “rebel league” compared to lifelong PGA Tour devotees such as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, his decision has already been framed as hypocritical in light of past statements.
“Everybody’s free to make their own choice, it’s as simple as that,” he said back in early 2022.
“All I can say is from somebody young like myself who has his entire future ahead of him, it doesn’t seem like a smart thing. Again, the only appeal I see is monetary, right? So like I said just earlier on, I think there’s a lot more to be able to play for besides just money on the PGA Tour.”
“There’s history, there’s legacy. At the end of the day, I’m in this to win tournaments, I’m in this to play against the best in the world.”
Elsewhere, Rahm took more of a definitive stance before officially declaring himself a PGA Tour loyalist:
“I laugh when people rumour me with LIV. I never liked the format.”
But clearly, he likes the paycheque enough. And as for the furtive, underhanded nature of the PGA Tour leadership’s dealings with LIV Golf prior to the shock announcement of a merger? Not so much, either.
The entire development has left us scratching our heads, considering the PGA Tour and LIV Golf are (ostensibly) on track to unify. To borrow the crude aphorism: why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?
Pundits like Ewan Murray of The Guardian have indicated this nine-figure blow to the PGA Tour’s roster could simply be a chess move on Saudi Arabia’s part to tilt the balance of the ongoing merger negotiations in their favour.
“Jon Rahm now looks like little more than a pawn in Saudi Arabia’s dubious dance on the fairways. His imminent switch to LIV comes at a time when the PGA Tour is seeking to close a deal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, ostensibly by 31 December,” explains Murray
“The necessity for that deal to happen, against the backdrop of alternatives, has only increased now LIV has apparently demonstrated it can pinch another marquee player from the PGA Tour… It serves as a reminder to golf’s establishment that the Saudi investors are of no mind either to go away or be messed about.”
We’ve said it once and we’ll no doubt say it again about some other high-paid pro athlete: money talks and Jon Rahm walks.