Enlarge image

Golf star Jon Rahm

Photo: Jon Super / dpa

The Spaniard Jon Rahm has switched sides between the PGA and LIV tours 24 days before the negotiation deadline and will be paid from Saudi Arabia in the future. The decision of the best golfer of the past years has potentially enormous implications for the future structures in the sport. The US Open and Masters winner made his decision public on Thursday in an interview on Fox News and a short post on Instagram.

Previously, numerous media outlets had already reported on the imminent move, estimating the value of the three-year contract at $300 million to $600 million. According to the US news agency AP, the 29-year-old Rahm could earn more than the PGA Tour currently pays out as prize money across all its events. In 2023, there was a total of around 460 million US dollars to be earned on the PGA Tour.

Rahm himself did not want to answer the question about his earnings in the interview on Fox News. "I was happy," he said, wearing a black varsity jacket with the LIV logo, referring to the PGA Tour. "But there are some things that LIV Golf can offer that are very tempting." He emphasized that he still does not play golf for the money, but as a family man he has an obligation and responsibility.

Negotiations on a merger stall

The LIV has caused enormous unrest in recent months and persuaded players to switch with guaranteed millions in fees. In June, the three golf series, PGA, LIV and the European DP World Tour, jointly announced that they had reached a "groundbreaking agreement to unify golf" and would work together in the future. Accordingly, the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund PIF (Public Investment Fund), which was previously involved in the LIV Tour, is now also to be a partner and financier of a new joint organization. Since then, however, there has been no binding agreement, and the self-imposed deadline expires at the end of the year. It is not clear what Rahm's move will mean for the negotiations.

Before Rahm, five-time majors winner Brooks Koepka, US Open and Masters winner Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau (all USA), who won the US Open in 2020, had switched to LIV. The German PGA Championship and US Open winner Martin Kaymer also plays on the LIV Tour. The first big name was Phil Mickelson.

Change of opinion at Rahm – hardly any consequences for other tournaments

Rahm, who won the Masters this year and the US Open in 2021 and thus two of the most important golf tournaments, has been one of the absolute top players for years. In the past, he had always described a change as uninteresting, pointing to the tradition and greater importance of success on the PGA Tour.

Rahm will also be able to take part in the world's most important golf tournaments in the coming years. He has a lifetime right to compete in the Masters. He is qualified for the PGA Championship and the Open Championship for four more years, and for the US Open for eight more years.

It is unclear what the change means for participation in the Ryder Cup. Rory McIlroy, who has been one of LIV's fiercest critics in the past, spoke out on Thursday in favor of Rahm being allowed to participate. "There's no question about that. I want Jon in the next Ryder Cup team," said the Northern Irishman.