Jon Rahm reveals "adult" chats with LIV supremo and his Ian Poulter showdown

Jon Rahm sat down with the Fore Play podcast and discussed his views on LIV Golf and his previous conversations with Phil Mickelson, Pat Perez and Ian Poulter.

Matt Chivers's picture
Fri, 3 Feb 2023
Jon Rahm on LIV Golf and the PGA Tour: "There is a way to co-exist"

World No.3 Jon Rahm believes that the PGA Tour and LIV Golf can co-exist one day and he wants the "bad blood" and verbal sparring to end.

Speaking to the Fore Play podcast of Barstool Sports, Rahm believes that the emergence of LIV Golf has helped to produce a better outlook for the PGA Tour, an outlook that includes the best players competing against each other more regularly. 

The Spaniard also discussed the decisions made by the likes of Phil Mickelson and Pat Perez, players who he keeps as friends and refuses to judge after accepting lucrative contracts to join the Saudi-backed series.

Related: Phil Mickelson teases huge PGA Tour bombshell

Rahm has always been a calm presence within the LIV-PGA Tour debate. Where you have Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas who have often publicly defended the Tour, Rahm has been less passionate and taken views on board from both sides of the fence.

In August 2022, the Elevated Event structure for the 2023 season was announced as well as the vast increase in prize money at these events. The basis of Rahm's hope is that this leads to the Tour growing its fanbase and becoming a better product.

"I don't think LIV is necessarily a bad thing. You're getting a better product out of it - it's already happening. The best players in the world playing together way more often which is what we all wanted and what everybody watching TV wants," Rahm said.

"You want to beat the best and you want to watch the best compete. That's already happened and I think it's great. I'm not going to get too into the prize money, it is what it is. I've been blessed to do what I do and I make plenty of money already.

"Obviously doubling it, great. It's great for all of us. I think they're going on the right track. I hope this gets done right and we end up with a much better product, not only for us but for the fans. That's the main thing, the fans.

"The PGA Tour fanbase needs to grow a little bit and especially in the younger generations."

The second LIV Golf season will begin at Mayakoba on February 24 and Mickelson and Perez will be in the field. Mickelson was one of the main driving forces behind the emergence of the breakaway league.

Related: Jon Rahm is not a superstar, says Chamblee

Shortly after Mickelson made the infamous "scary mother*****r" comments to Alan Shipnuck at the start of last year, Rahm said "I don't think his whole career or whole legacy should change because of a couple of comments."

The former US Open champion, who has already won twice on the Tour this season, maintained that his friendships with players who've made the controversial switch haven't been ruined.

He used Pat Perez as another example. Perez described joining LIV as "winning the lottery." He told Claude Harmon III that "at 46, you offer me enough cash - and I don't have to play as much anymore, I'm out of there."

"I'm being myself, I'm giving you my opinion. It's not my place to judge what anyone else does. They're full-grown adults, they can make a decision for themselves. I can agree with it or not but that's not going to change how I operate with my friends," Rahm added.

"Do I agree with everything that Phil has said? No, and I've told him that and we've talked about it and we've had our discussions. He tells me what he thinks the PGA Tour's done wrong. I tell him what I think they've (LIV) done wrong and that's a very adult discussion. We don't have to agree.

"Another great friend of mine - Pat Perez - he was honest, he was always kind of against LIV and then the opportunity came and he said 'I'm gone'. I'm like 'OK good, I fully understand'. I fully understand why a lot of people have gone, so I don't judge it.

Related: PGA Tour pro reveals his problem with Perez

"It is what it is. I've also expressed why I don't like LIV for now. I don't like the format, and I don't like a bit of what they stand for right now, but they could grow into something interesting. I do believe there is a way of co-existence in the future.

"I don't think you can be able to play both sides, obviously, but I think there is a way to co-exist and have both tours. If you look at it from the perspective of the game of golf, I think it's only good to have another different way of playing or a different way of doing it.

"I just hope the bad blood and the bad comments in between end. Just let them be and let them do what they want and that's it.

When Rahm won the Acciona Open de Espana in October, he used his victory speech to congratulate his fellow countryman Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra for winning on the LIV Golf Tour.

He has avoided tension since Greg Norman's start-up league began last June, even when temperatures were at their highest at the BMW PGA Championship in September.

Rory McIlroy, Billy Horschel and Shane Lowry used this event to voice their dislike at LIV Golf players competing at the DP World Tour's flagship event.

Horschel was filmed having a heated discussion with Poulter on the putting green in Virginia Water.

Rahm, who thinks LIV Golfers should be allowed at the Ryder Cup, revealed an exchange that he had with Poulter that week, which essentially summarised the nine-time PGA Tour winner's stance on the whole thing.

"You can have a discussion with them. I went up to [Ian] Poulter at the BMW PGA at Wentworth and everybody was fighting with each other and I just said 'what do you want?' Straight up, 'what do you want out of this?'"

"'Why are you guys here?' He told me and I said 'great'. Listen, it's great to know. It's not my place to tell you where to go or not to go. I'm not going to get too political it's not my place, but that's kind of how I feel."