Rory McIlroy has praised Jon Rahm’s ‘smart business move’ to LIV Golf, but also revealed his gripes about some players who’ve swapped sides…
The Northern Irishman said his Ryder Cup teammate accepted the reported $400 million on the table in “opportunistic” fashion as golf’s powers prepare to merge.
A world where Rahm returns to the PGA Tour might not be far off if a deal is struck with the Public Investment Fund this year.
McIlroy was speaking on the Stick to Football podcast, brought to you by Sky Bet, for the first time since Rahm completed a stunning U-turn to join the Saudi-funded series in December.
“I think at this point with the whole framework agreement and the merger news in June, it has legitimised what LIV was trying to do, which then made it easier for guys to jump over to LIV Golf,” he said.
“Jon Rahm hasn’t got any of the heat for going like the first guys got for going.
“Jon is a smart guy and I think he sees things coming together at some point so he’s thinking that he’ll take the upfront money, which is his prerogative, and if things come together, he’ll play LIV for a year then come back to play on the tour and play some team golf.
“I thought it was a smart business move from Jon – it’s opportunistic. I think he sees that things will come back together and he’s in a lucky position.
“There’s not one person that wouldn’t want him on our Ryder Cup team because of how good he is, so he was in a great position where there wasn’t a ton of risk involved for him to go.
“But I’ve got no problem with him going if that’s what he wants to do and he thinks that’s the right decision for him and his family, then who am I to say any different at this point.”
Rory McIlroy: LIV Golf rebels should remember where they’ve come from
Despite admitting to being judgmental of departing players, McIlroy also revealed his biggest frustration with some of those who’ve left the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.
“Most things are cool with the players who have transferred to LIV,” he added.
“The one thing that’s bothered me is that we’ve all grown up, playing on the European Tour or PGA Tour, and that’s given us a platform to turn into who we are, give us the profile and everything.
“So, when people have played that for 15 or 20 years, and then they jump to LIV and start talking c*** about where they’ve come from, that is what bothers me because they wouldn’t be in this position if they didn’t have the career they’ve had so far.
“It’s like when you move clubs in football. It might get frustrating, and people move on, but you’re hopefully going to appreciate what the previous club did for you.
“That is the thing that bothers me sometimes with some of these guys that have jumped, that they’ve just started talking c*** about where they’ve come from and it’s not a great look.”
Two players McIlroy is cool with are Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson. He told the media at the Masters in 2023 that he sees a lot of the major-winning pair.
Perhaps he doesn’t share the same bond with the likes of Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood – two stalwarts of their respective tours who’ve been openly critical of them since joining LIV Golf.
Mickelson judged the PGA Tour to be “trending downwards” in October 2022, while Westwood described the DP World Tour as in bed with the PGA Tour in May 2023 and “a feeder” to its American ally.
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