Jon Rahm has signed on with LIV Golf in a multi-year deal that's reported to be somewhere in the $400-$500 million range. LIV made the announcement Thursday evening after speculation had been steadily increasing that the 29-year-old would join the Saudi-backed circuit. It's a significant coup for LIV—Rahm is one of the best players in the world, a two-time major winner, the reigning Masters champion in the prime of his career and is well-liked by both his peers and golf fans.
It also marks a significant change-of-heart for the Spaniard, who has been on record many times saying he doesn't like LIV's format of 54 holes with no-cut.
“Will our lifestyle change if I got $400 million? No, it will not change one bit,” Rahm said at last year's U.S. Open. “Truth be told, I could retire right now with what I’ve made and live a very happy life and not play golf again. So I’ve never really played the game of golf for monetary reasons. I play for the love of the game, and I want to play against the best in the world. I’ve always been interested in history and legacy, and right now the PGA Tour has that.
“There’s meaning when you win the Memorial Championship. There’s meaning when you win Arnold Palmer’s event at Bay Hill. There’s a meaning when you win, LA, Torrey, some of the historic venues. That to me matters a lot, right. After winning this past U.S. Open, only me and Tiger have won at Torrey Pines, and it’s a golf course that we like, making putts on the 18th hole. That’s a memory I’m going to have forever that not many people can say. My heart is with the PGA Tour. That’s all I can say.”
Rahm held a Q&A with reporters on Thursday to announce the LIV news. Here's everything he had to say.
—On what led to his change of heart. “The past two years there's been a lot of evolving in the game of golf and things have changed a lot and so have I. Seeing the growth and evolution and the innovation is something that’s captured my attention and that’s why we’re here today.”
—On dealing with potential backlash: “I believe it’s the best for me and my family…I’m very comfortable with my decision. Just learn to deal with it. It won't define who I am or change who I am. With experience you learn to deal with negativity better.”
—On whether he considered potentially missing the Ryder Cup: “I’ve explained many times how much the Ryder Cup means to me. I hope that I can be involved in future editions of the Ryder Cup.”
—On his previous comments disparaging LIV's format: “Like I said earlier, the growth that I’ve seen and how it’s become a global business and can impact golf globally in a meaningful way is very enticing. For all those things I like about this movement, there are always going to be things that are not perfect. That’s something I can live with. It’s an ever-growing and ever-changing machine. I hope the leaders of LIV Golf might listen to my advice and see some changes in the future that are better for the future of the game”
—On the state of the PGA Tour's negotiation with the Public Investment Fund: “I can’t speak on what I don’t know. I wish I knew more about where the framework stands. I’ve kept myself absent from all that to be able to play the best golf I can play. I found it to be a little distracting at times so I haven’t really focused on it. There’s been some leaps and some growth toward the game of golf getting together and I sure hope in the future we can make decisions that make golf better. That’s my position—play golf to the best of my abilities and leave the game in a better position than when I started playing golf. I always mention it in Spain, what Seve did to grow the game there, hopefully I can do half as much as what he did and that’s a success."
—On whether he'd want to play PGA Tour events moving forward: "I really don’t know. I wouldn’t know how to answer that question. I do want to maintain my PGA Tour and DPWT status I will not give that up. Hopefully with the freedom LIV gives me I can play both those tours. There are certain PGA Tour events I want to play as long as my schedule allows. If possible, I want to make that happen.”
—On risking missing the Ryder Cup: “What they had to offer was worth the risk of maybe not playing a Ryder Cup”
—On what makes it worth missing the Ryder Cup: “The innovation. The difference. Being part of a team. Being an owner and a captain—when I grew up playing golf it wasn’t an opportunity. But it is now, and it’s really enticing to me. I’ve seen people grow and I’m looking forward to hoping making an impact”
—On whether he knows who will be on his LIV team. “We’re just going to have to wait and see. Asked if he already knows, he smiles. "We’ll just have to wait and see. “
—On whether his decision was impacted by the current state of the PGA Tour: “I’m forever grateful for the PGA Tour and the platform they allowed me to be on. I have nothing bad to say about them. They’ve given me the opportunity to play the game I’ve always wanted to play and play in some great events, but this is more about me and what is best for my career”
—Asked about his love of legacy and golf history: “What’s even better than that is being a pioneer The one that creates the legacy that people speak about in the future. As ambitious as that my be, that’s the opportunity we have
—On the terms of his agreement. “I’m not allowed to speak on that right now. There are certain things that are not gonna be public. This decision was for many reasons what I thought was best for me. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great deal. I had a really great offer in front of me and that’s why I took it. They put me in a position where I had to think about it and I did.”
—On if he's spoken to sponsors about his decision. “It’s been a very small circle for a very long time. We’ve been able to speak to sponsors and Callaway has told me they want to continue this partnership and I’m grateful that they want to have faith in me through this change. “
—On the role money played in the decision: “It’s one of the reasons, I’m not going to sit here and lie to you. It’s one of the reasons.”
—On how quickly the deal came together: “It’s come together a lot quicker than some people maybe expected. The people involved with this who have been helping me out have had a few sleepless weeks. It’s been an exciting process, let’s say that.”
—On the team aspect of LIV Golf: “The team aspect of things is absolutely key. Growing up being a football supporter, in Spain, teams are the important part. I was part of the Spanish national team for many years and more recently ASU. I’ve been part of a golf team for the largest part of the career. Having that opportunity brought a lot of those feelings back. I’m looking forward to building a team of four strong players. That’s a beautiful feeling that we don’t get to experience often in golf. It’s one of the main motivating factors for me. “
—On dealing with the backlash: “As long as I have the support of the people I love, I know I’m going to be fine.”
—On whether his decision is part of some larger agreement between the PGA Tour and the PIF: “I’ve separated myself form my negotiations because it’s management of the PGA Tour and PIF. My job is to play golf that’s what I’m here to do. That’s what I want to do. Hopefully that negotiations”
—On if he's had a chance to talk to fellow players, namely Sergio Garcia: “We couldn’t risk information coming out even though somehow it always does. It’s been certain texts I’ve had to diffuse and certain topics. He did reach out and he did talk to me a little bit. We’ve stayed in contact ever since he went so it’s not out of the ordinary.”
—On whether Phil Mickelson played a role in his decision: “None. No role at all. All those players on LIV are finding out shortly after we’re doing this Q&A. No role at all. He’s somebody I lean on to for advice as I’ve always done but not somebody I’ve talked to. I know he wishes I could’ve talked to him but it’s not something I could’ve done.
—On what was the biggest hurdle to overcome in the decision process: “I can confidently say it’s Ryder Cup. I couldn’t talk to anybody about it so. I don’t know what’s gonna come of it.”
—On Saudi investment in other sports: “When Ronaldo, Neymar, Benzema went those are big enough names to think why not me? Clearly they’re trying to create a positive impact in sports. I’m happy that in a small way I can help with that. “