Jon Rahm described the negotiations that led to his LIV Golf move as “deep waters”, addressing the media for the first time as a Legion XIII player…
Jon Rahm doesn’t look back on the days leading up to joining LIV Golf with any fondness.
The Masters champion said it was “difficult” to maintain such levels of secrecy as speculation swirled around a shock move to the Saudi-funded tour.
Despite nailing his colours to the PGA Tour mast on more than one occasion, Rahm completed his switch on December 6 having become involved in “deep waters” of negotiations.
His decision constituted a U-turn having pledged his “fealty” to the PGA Tour in February 2022, but the Spaniard absorbed the reactions of those who disagreed with his choice which has subsequently seen him suspended from the circuit on which he won 11 times.
“The weeks leading up to the announcement weren’t the easiest. I had to wait a lot – get enough info to then make an informed decision,” he said speaking at LIV Golf Mayakoba.
“And even the process of negotiations, that was very, very deep waters compared to what I’m used to. I had to be more involved than I thought I was going to have to be, but once the announcement was made, everything became a lot easier.
“Having to keep the secrecy and not being able to talk to anybody about it was difficult, so once it became public, the reaction was pretty much what I expected.
“The ones that are close friends, that maybe had an idea or not, supported me and there are obviously some people that are going to disagree with any decisions we make in life.
“Pretty much in line with what I expected, but it was nice to have some time after that before my first LIV Golf competition to process and then re-focus and get to work.”
By this time last year, Rahm had already won The Sentry and The American Express, forging his path towards Augusta National where he won his second major title.
Although his activity in the New Year has diminished compared with previous seasons, the 29-year-old is full of confidence ahead of his LIV Golf debut.
“I feel good. One of the odd parts, at this point I might’ve already played three or four events, so it’s trying to get used to that,” he added.
“(I’m) very used to having to grind a little bit more during Christmas and the New Year to start competing, but I feel confident. Every time I tee it up, my goal is to win.
“No matter what shape my game is in, that’s pretty much the goal. There have been times when on a Tuesday, it felt pretty bad and I ended up performing great, so it really doesn’t matter what it feels like today.”
Jon Rahm: Rory McIlroy ‘might be seeing that the landscape of golf is changing’
He and Hatton, a fruitful Ryder Cup pair from Rome last year, were asked about their Team Europe colleague Rory McIlroy and his newfound acceptance of LIV and the role of the Public Investment Fund in the sport.
Since Europe beat the USA in Italy, McIlroy has asserted his wish for golf to “come back together” following nearly two years of hostility between the PGA Tour and LIV.
At the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Northern Irishman said LIV players should be able to come back to the tour without punishment.
He also revealed he’d spoken to Hatton, who is on his TGL Golf team, and understood his decision to switch to Greg Norman’s breakaway league.
“I’ve spoken to Rory a bit in the past week and in December, so that’s along the lines of what he said to me, so it’s not a surprise to hear him say that in the media,” Hatton said.
“Ultimately, I would like to still play events on the other two tours, but we’ll see how all that works out.”
McIlroy has also made clear his desire to share a Ryder Cup dressing room with Rahm in 2025, as his LIV Golf allegiance could conceivably cost him a spot in Luke Donald’s team at Bethpage.
“I haven’t spoken to him (Rory) a lot recently, but he might’ve had a change in thought process to some of the things he’s said in the past,” Rahm said.
“I think he might be seeing that the landscape of golf is changing and at some point, you need to evolve.
“So I think he might be seeing that. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It’s nice to have the support from a player of the calibre of Rory, especially those Ryder Cup remarks he made.
“That’s an important statement for change to be set.”
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(Image credit: LIV Golf media)