Confirmed: Jon Rahm drops atomic bomb on PGA Tour by joining LIV Golf

Jon Rahm's switch to the lucrative LIV Golf League has been made official, weeks after intense speculation about the reigning Masters champion.

Ben Smith's picture
Thu, 7 Dec 2023
Confirmed: Jon Rahm drops atomic bomb on PGA Tour by joining LIV Golf

At a glance:

  • Jon Rahm agrees multi-year LIV Golf deal
  • Contract is said to be worth £450m (Wall Street Journal/Telegraph Sport)
  • Reigning Masters champion will own 25% equity stake in own team
  • His signature arrives days before PGA Tour-PIF deadline

Jon Rahm has officially joined the lucrative LIV Golf League for a reported £450m fee in a move that will send shockwaves through the sport. 

Rahm, 29, was confirmed as a LIV player late in the day on December 7 after weeks of intense speculation that was sparked after he withdrew from Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy's indoor golf league. 

The Spaniard has signed the richest LIV contract in history and will have his own team on the breakaway tour that is rumoured to be named Los Toros (The Bulls).

Rahm is currently ranked third in the world, is the reigning Masters champion and one of the game's most popular players. 

His signature is a mind-boggling coup for LIV ahead of the Saudi-backed league's third campaign that will get underway next February. 

Until now, LIV have struggled to add any star power to its roster of talent after an initial wave of defections that included Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka,  Cameron Smith and Bryson DeChambeau

Mickelson, Johnson, Koepka, Smith and DeChambeau all joined LIV for fees varying between $100-200m. 

Upon signing for LIV, he told Fox News: "The past two years there has been a lot of evolving in the game of golf.

"Things have changed a lot and so have I and I've seen the growth of LIV Golf and the innovation.

"That’s why we're here today. Certain things are not going to be public, but this decision was made for many reasons.

"What I thought was best for me. Don't get me wrong, it's a great deal.

"It was a great offer in front of me and it's one of the reasons I took it. They put me in a position to think about it and that's what I did."

WATCH RAHM'S INTERVIEW HERE

Rahm's decision to leave the PGA Tour also arrives at a frantic time in the world of men's professional golf. 

The North American circuit is currently embroiled in negotiations with LIV Golf's backers, the PIF of Saudi Arabia, to ratify the 6 June framework agreement. 

Tiger Woods has spoken of his belief a deal could be agreed by the 31 December deadline. 

PGA Tour boss Jay Monahan also stated the date was a 'firm target' but Rahm's decision.

How Rahm's signature will affect the peace talks is unclear but it has been argued by some golf analysts the move will act as an insurance policy by the PIF not to torpedo the agreement. 

The aforementioned Monahan has acknowledged there are several interested parties in the running to join the group's investment agreement with the PIF. 

"I pledge my fealty to the PGA Tour"

There are several LIV players who previously distanced themselves from joining the rival circuit. 

Brooks Koepka memorably said 'somebody will sell out' before LIV played their first event, only to pen a multi-year deal a month later. 

Pat Perez also stated 'F no' when asked if he was going to get on the 'Saudi train' in an appearance on GOLF's Subpar. 

But Rahm's decision to leave will be seen by those at PGA Tour HQ as the biggest betrayal yet. 

Rahm has consistently denied any interest in LIV.

In February 2022 he pledged his 'fealty' to the PGA Tour. He has even gone so far as saying $400m 'wouldn't change my life' and he no longer plays professional golf for the money. 

He has dismissed LIV Golf's format, describing the 54-hole events as 'not a proper golf tournament'. 

Before the 151st Open in July, he stated he 'laughed' at the rumours linking him with a switch to LIV. 

Those comments also coincided with his staunch defence of PGA Tour boss Monahan. 

Several leading tour pros, such as Xander Schauffele, called for Monahan to quit after the PGA Tour boss agreed the framework agreement with the PIF in a series of secret meetings across the globe. 

"I think he should have the opportunity right now to finish this off the way he did," Rahm previously said.

"I think we're quickly forgetting how well he managed a lot of things. He did an amazing job in COVID and kept a lot of people employed."

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