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Blanked by Tiger! Six talking points from Jon Rahm’s latest interview

Jon Rahm discussed a wide range of topics in a new interview with ESPN including his move to LIV Golf, why he made his decision and his talks with Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods…

 

The first part of an interview with Jon Rahm and ESPN’s Marty Smith has been released.

In it, the Spaniard discusses several topics surrounding his shock move to LIV Golf which he made before the start of the Saudi-funded league’s 2024 season.

Rahm’s transfer from the PGA Tour arguably constituted the most surprising of all LIV’s acquisitions as the Masters champion, a European Ryder Cup talisman and also a player who verbally pledged his commitment to the PGA Tour amid LIV Golf’s uprising.

He has become the captain of a new team in the LIV Golf League, Legion XIII GC, and he was joined by Tyrrell Hatton, Caleb Surratt and Kieran Vincent.

After accepting what was rumoured to be a £450 million joining fee, Rahm has revealed his thoughts behind joining Greg Norman’s breakaway league, the reaction he feared for doing it, as well as addressing his conversations, or lack of, with Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.

Stay tuned for part two but, in the meantime, here is a rundown of the latest Jon Rahm interview:

jon rahm interview

Explaining the move: ‘Certain circumstances changed’

Rahm earmarked the PGA Tour’s framework agreement with the Public Investment Fund, announced in June 2023, as a turning point in his mindset towards LIV Golf.

The 29-year-old also admitted that the vast finances coming his way from the rebel tour contributed to his decision back in December.

“It’s a change. The best way I can explain it is LIV Golf wasn’t a thing or a possibility for us growing up, the PGA Tour was the pinnacle of golf,” he added.

“This is a new change, a big change and I don’t want to skip through this point because there’s no point – a big change in the way the golfers get compensated. I’d be lying if I said it (the money) wasn’t a big part of it.

“In a nutshell, I’m getting more to play the same sport and have more time. I don’t know about most people, but that sounds great to me.

“From when I said that (pledging his fealty to the PGA Tour in February 2022), certain circumstances changed.

“When the PGA Tour and the PIF got into this framework agreement and agreed to work together in the future, I think it opened my mind to maybe – I’ve been a little bit closed-minded towards this and maybe I should give myself a chance, as an athlete and entertainer, I think I owe it to myself to hear the other side out and that’s what I did.”

Winning the Masters made the LIV Golf move easier

Rahm won his second major title at the Masters in 2023, earning him another batch of starts in the major championships in the coming years.

But many of LIV colleagues have seen opportunities to play in majors limited as they now play in a league that doesn’t qualify for world ranking points.

Would he have joined LIV Golf if he hadn’t slipped on the Green Jacket?

“Well I didn’t want to look at it that way, like I said, I’m very hopeful that there’ll be a path back to all of those things. But I can confidently say that if I hadn’t won the Masters, I don’t know if I would’ve done it.

“It definitely set me up in a position where it’s easier to make that change and if I hadn’t won a major, I don’t know if I would have ever done it.”

READ MORE HERE: Jon Rahm: Winning the Masters made it easier to join LIV Golf

The biggest concern about joining LIV Golf

Having spoken in favour of the PGA Tour more than once in previous months and years, Rahm explained what he was most concerned about with the reaction to his big-money switch:

“My biggest concern at that point if I were to go was a little bit of negative media backlash. The way I see it at the end of the day is if you want to improve your position or to what you think is a better position, I think you’re free to go and do job interviews, I have the right to do what I think is best for myself and for my family. Period.

“I’ve said it before. As a father and as a husband, I have a duty to set my family up as best as possible, not that we weren’t, we’re extremely privileged people, I’m aware of that, but it’s my duty.”

jon rahm interview

ALSO: Where will Jon Rahm play next?

What does the PIF want to achieve in golf?

The PIF and the PGA Tour remain locked in negotiations to “unify the game of golf,” an intention which was touted when the newfound alliance was revealed last summer.

Rahm gave his thoughts on the situation:

“I think the fact that they’ve (PIF) made an effort to be involved with the PGA Tour and support the PGA Tour all along is a testament that they’re not here to take over and make the PGA Tour go away. I think it’s that simple.

“I never knew if that was the goal or not but after talking to the people in charge, I know that’s not the goal.”

Rory has spoken to me, but Tiger hasn’t…

Jon Rahm’s Ryder Cup teammate Rory McIlroy described his decision to join LIV as a “smart business move,” adding that he had no issue if that is what is best for the Spaniard’s family.

Rahm recognised McIlroy’s support, but he hadn’t received the same love from 15-time major champion Tiger Woods…

“Rory has been supportive publicly of my decision and he was privately as well. Tiger – no, not really. I texted him and the people that tried to reach out throughout the process of when I signed and I just let him know, ‘Hey, this is a personal decision, I have nothing against anybody’.”

I still want to play on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour

Having won eight events on the DP World Tour, including three wins at the Spanish Open in his home country, Rahm has maintained he would “love” to continue playing in events on the continent.

After being suspended by the PGA Tour, Rahm could soon be hit with fines and suspensions for competing in LIV Golf events under the DP World Tour’s conflicting tournament rules as well.

“I want to make one thing clear. If allowed, I will still support the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour. I’m not giving up and there are still some events I would absolutely love to play, no doubt about it. If my schedule allows, I would go and play.”

NOW READ: Which players joined Jon Rahm in the LIV Golf League in 2024?

What have you made of the Jon Rahm LIV saga? Did you want him to stay with the main tours? Tell us on X/Twitter!

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spent time with some of the biggest names in the sport.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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