Jon Rahm joining LIV would be ‘massive coup’ for Saudi-funded tour
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Jon Rahm joining LIV would be ‘massive coup’ for Saudi-funded tour

Not since those feverish days in the spring of 2022, when LIV Golf first became a thing, has there been such heightened chatter surrounding potential new recruits for the Saudi Arabia-funded breakaway league.

Jon Rahm joining LIV would be 'massive coup' for Saudi-funded tour
Jon Rahm joining LIV would be ‘massive coup’ for Saudi-funded tour

And in particular, the possibility of Spain’s Jon Rahm signing for the Greg Norman-led circuit. It is exercising the minds of his fellow players, administrators and fans of the sport worldwide.

This would be a massive coup for LIV, arguably their biggest scalp to date. Yes, they lured the reigning Open champion Cam Smith when he joined in August last year, but Rahm seems an even bigger deal.

This is the reigning Masters champion and a Ryder Cup hero. He is someone who repeatedly pledged his “fealty” to the PGA Tour to silence initial speculation that he may go the way of close confidant Phil Mickelson and fellow major winners Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.

Rahm has always been a strong advocate for golf’s history, seemingly wanting to create his own legacy within the establishment parameters that founded the careers of the game’s greatest stars.

But for the past fortnight his name has been linked with a move to the $2bn LIV set-up and its 54-hole shotgun start format. Several social media accounts claim the deal is already done and it involves hundreds of millions of dollars.

In the past some of these accounts have made correct predictions, but not always. And what is certain is that only a handful of people know the truth of the situation.

The PGA and DP World Tours will be concerned there has been nothing from the Rahm camp. There was an initial denial from his management, but that was before the whispers became public. There has been nothing since.

It leaves a worrying vacuum for the established tours and at a time when they are trying to consolidate the framework agreement they signed with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) last June.

Were Rahm lured to LIV, that would put an entirely different complexion on the forthcoming meetings between PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and PIF’s golf-mad governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan.

Tiger Woods, who now holds a key role in the PGA Tour’s management structure, repeatedly stated that 31 December is fast approaching. He intimated that he sees that date as a hard deadline for the Saudi deal to be done.

Rahm is a huge asset to the PGA Tour, as Jordan Spieth – who recently replaced Rory McIlroy on the tour’s policy board – somewhat confusingly acknowledged last week.

“We really hope that he’s continuing with us,” Spieth said.

“I know there have been some guys that have talked to him. I know he’s maybe weighing some decisions, maybe not. I really don’t know, so I don’t want to insult him and say he’s weighing decisions if he already knows he’s not or he is.”

So many unknowns. But it is an irrefutable fact that Rahm is also a massive figure on Europe’s DP World circuit, not to mention the continent’s Ryder Cup team.

If LIV can persuade him to join them it would be a savage blow to the establishment as well as for TV companies who have paid handsomely to screen tournaments featuring the biggest names.

While Koepka showed it remains possible for American LIV stars to still represent their country in the Ryder Cup, Europe requires its players to be members of the DP World Tour to be eligible.

Rahm would likely go the way of Sergio Garcia (with whom he wanted to play at this year’s match in Rome), Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter in quitting the Wentworth-led tour, rendering him ineligible for captain Luke Donald’s team.

As it stands, Europe would then be without one of their best players for the next match in New York in 2025. Rahm was Europe’s top scorer in the last match on American soil, picking up 3½ points in a record defeat, while he went unbeaten in victory in Italy, securing three points from four matches.

If either line-up is below full strength because of golf’s politics, that is bad news for the Ryder Cup.

This is a point Rahm has repeatedly made during the ongoing period of the sport’s so-called civil war.

Of course, there is a long way to go between now and the next match at Bethpage and the landscape in professional golf is likely to have significantly altered by then.

As an aside, the recent postponement of the vote by the Ladies European Tour (LET) to join forces with the LPGA is another indicator of how febrile the situation is across the board.

Could Saudi Arabia be about to further bolster the LET, to allow it to stand on its own two feet rather than amalgamate with its bigger and more powerful sister organisation stateside?

The kingdom is already investing in the LET via its Aramco Series and there has been speculation that they are trying to increase their investment in the women’s game.

But, again, it is that word – speculation. Rahm has been previously linked with LIV, as have a number of other leading stars but such rumours, so far, have come to nothing.

But still the mill turns, and the ramifications if this suggestion turns out to be true would be felt far and

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