Sources: Jon Rahm has signed with LIV Golf; announcement imminent
The rumors, this time, are true: Jon Rahm is headed to LIV Golf.
The 29-year-old Rahm, the current world No. 3, reigning Masters champion and 11-time PGA Tour winner, is expected to be announced as the most recent addition to the Saudi-backed league – and arguably LIV’s biggest signing yet – as early as Thursday afternoon, GolfChannel.com has confirmed with multiple sources privy to the matter.
Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis added Thursday on “Golf Today” that Rahm to LIV was happening barring a “pull of the rip cord by either side.”
For the past few weeks, there had been multiple reports that Rahm was not only in talks with LIV but also close to inking a deal with the PGA Tour’s rival league, which kicks off its third season Feb. 2-4 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. GolfChannel.com learned earlier on Thursday that it was a done deal; Rahm had signed.
GolfChannel.com has reached out to Rahm’s agent for comment.
Rahm’s signing comes as the PGA Tour continues to negotiate a potential alliance with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which backs LIV, before a Dec. 31 deadline outlined in a framework agreement reached between the two parties, plus the DP World Tour, in June. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said he was slated to meet with PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan this week to continue talks.
Part of the initial framework deal included a non-solicitation agreement in which both parties would agree to not enter into “any contract, agreement or understanding” with any players who are “members of the other’s tour or organization.” However, that clause was removed from the finalized framework deal after a Department of Justice review of the document raised antitrust concerns.
Rahm has long been one of the most sympathetic of the Tour’s stars toward LIV and its members, which include Rahm’s mentor Phil Mickelson. And in the lead-up to the Ryder Cup, Rahm wasn’t shy in arguing that Sergio Garcia should be eligible to compete in the biennial matches in Rome. But concurrently, Rahm had on several occasions pledged his “fealty” to the PGA Tour.
Back at the 2022 U.S. Open, which was contested a week after LIV’s inaugural event in London, Rahm shared his dislike for LIV’s format – most notably, its 54-hole tournaments and shotgun starts – while saying, “My heart is with the PGA Tour.”
“Would my lifestyle change if I got $400 million? No. It would not change one bit,” Rahm told reporters at Brookline. “Truth be told, I could retire right now with what I’ve made and live a very happy life and not play golf again. I’ve never really played the game of golf for monetary reasons. I play for the love of the game, and I want to play against the best in the world. I’ve always been interested in history and legacy and right now, the PGA Tour has that.”
Later in the year, Rahm dismissed a rumor that he was jumping to LIV, responding to a Twitter account that claimed the rumor to be true, “I must inform you that you have started a losing streak because you and your source are wrong.”
Rahm also touched on LIV this past July on a Spanish golf podcast co-hosted by fellow tour pro Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, who since then has entered the upcoming LIV’s Promotions event. Rahm told Fernandez-Castano that LIV first approached him in early 2022 and he then met with LIV CEO Greg Norman in Mexico before LIV officially launched.
“Instead of convincing me with the history of golf, with what I love, he started sending me numbers, numbers and numbers,” Rahm said. “And my answer was ‘Talk to my manager,’ and we’ll talk in the future. It was the only time I spoke to him on the subject. In turn, I told my manager that this doesn’t appeal to me.”
Later in the podcast, Rahm added: “Phil respects my decision and I respect his decision. He has told me that I have no reason to go to LIV. And he has told me that several times.” Rahm also commented on Monahan, saying things like, “I still think he’s been doing a great job,” and, “I only think it’s fair to give them the right time to work things out.”
The rumor mill, however, picked back up in November. Rahm withdrew two days into the month from the now-delayed TGL, saying he couldn’t offer the level of commitment required. He played the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai a couple weeks later, and a few days after that event ended, reporter Alan Shipnuck tweeted that Mickelson had been telling people that Rahm to LIV was a “done deal.”
Rahm didn’t respond to Shipnuck, but Mickelson did, saying, “This isn’t true, and I don’t know anything. I don’t want to know anything, and I haven’t said anything.” (It’s worth noting that Mickelson’s response was vague enough that he could’ve been dispelling the report that he was telling people Rahm was joining LIV, not that Rahm was joining LIV.)
Rory McIlroy said earlier this month that he was confident Rahm was still committed to the Tour: “I spoke to Jon a couple days ago and would be very, very surprised if that were to happen. I’m pretty confident Jon is a PGA Tour player.”
Following more reports that Rahm’s LIV announcement was imminent, some players competing at the Hero World Challenge offered comment.
“I know there’s been some guys that have talked to him,” Jordan Spieth said. “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. You know, that’s somewhat out of my control in a way. Obviously, I could speak probably on behalf of 200-plus PGA Tour players in saying that we really hope that he’s continuing with us.”
And Tiger Woods, though not specifically asked about Rahm, only about “big-name players” rumored to be bolting for LIV: “Hypothetically, would it surprise me, yes, but there’s so many different things that have happened in the last, as you said, 48 hours but also in the last few weeks. Things have changed and will continue to change.”
Rahm’s decision to leave the PGA Tour is one of the biggest changes yet, as the PGA Tour loses one of its biggest assets.
Past players who have joined LIV have been suspended from PGA Tour competition once they’ve hit their first shot on LIV.
By way of his winning the Masters this year, Rahm is guaranteed to play in all four majors for at least the next five years. He has a lifetime exemption into the Masters and is exempt into the next eight U.S. Opens, courtesy of his 2021 U.S. Open victory at Torrey Pines.