Thomas Bjorn is not prepared to bash Jon Rahm for accepting a huge-money move to LIV Golf but he does consider the sport "has let itself down" in the process.
Former European Ryder Cup captain Bjorn, 52, admits he was "surprised" Rahm, 29, made a U-turn on the Saudi-bankrolled league but ultimately the reported fee of £450m was just too much for him to turn down, especially given his major exempt status as a two-time major champion.
Bjorn, who skippered the Europeans to victory at the 2018 Ryder Cup, told BettingSites.co.uk:
"Because of Jon’s comments in the past, I think everyone was surprised. I’m not one to stand up and shout and say ‘you said this’. I get that there’s an offer on the table. There are certain things that change. In six, eight and 12 months the mindset becomes different. He’s exempt into all the major championships for the foreseeable future.
"Most of us hope the game finds its position over the next period of time. I know Jon has a lot of good friends that are within the LIV structure. Obviously, there’s a money aspect to it. Don’t ever lose sight of that. Whatever the number is, it’s a lot of money. It is very difficult for a young man to say no to that out of principle.
"Jon Rahm has gone to LIV because that’s where the world is, like a lot of others have gone to LIV. And that’s the state of the game. The state of the game should be that the best guys go play against each other in great events all over the world.
"Golf is an individual sport, but that does not mean there isn’t room for team golf. The pinnacle of the game is the major championships. That’s what the game is built on. When I was a kid at the driving range, it was about the individual drive to become as successful as I could."
LIV Golf may do things differently with a 54-hole format and shotgun start, comprising both individual and team events, but Bjorn believes there is not so much of a need to come away from the sport's old structure.
In light of the PGA Tour's Saudi PIF merger deadline looming at the end of the year, Bjorn considers the professional game must come together as one in order to truly make the game global.
The divide in the pro game is doing nothing for the growth of the sport, admits Bjorn.
"Golf has let itself down thinking that the structure we had for however many years, was not the right structure. This has shown there is a need and desire for something else. There are fans that weren’t happy with the old structure, but that doesn’t mean the old way was completely wrong either. You have to find a balance to make everything right.
"The structure is going to be there within the game, in one way or another.
"The professional game has to find a way to work together, across everything. The greatest opportunity is here to make the game global. There’s an opportunity here to do what’s right for the players, the fans, sponsors and media partners to actually bring the game together."
What do you make of Bjorn's comments? Is the professional game letting itself down? Has Rahm made the right decision to move to LIV Golf? Share your comments over on the GolfMagic social media channels.
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