Editor’s note: This interview was recorded before Jon Rahm’s official announcement to sign with LIV Golf.
Jon Rahm is officially headed to LIV Golf, but as things currently stand, there’s still one major issue holding back the Saudi-financed tour.
PGA Tour veteran and longtime golf broadcaster Gary McCord says everything has to do with getting world ranking points.
“They can’t they can’t get the big players because the big players will finally, after and not getting world ranking points, going to fall out of the majors,” McCord told GOLF Subpar co-hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz on this week’s episode.
After Rahm won the Masters in April, he became exempt to the event for life, as well as securing exemptions into the other majors for the next five years, on top of his U.S. Open Invite until 2032 by virtue of his 2021 win. That rendered the point moot for him as World No. 3 became the league’s latest and arguably splashiest signing last Wednesday.
But for other players like Talor Gooch, who Knost mentioned is not qualified for any major in 2023, not getting Official World Golf Ranking points is a tough break. LIV was officially denied points by the OWGR in October, with the biggest reason being the lack of enough promotion and relegation opportunities within the league.
However, McCord, who had negotiations with LIV to join their broadcast team, eventually sees the world golf unified again “in some way shape or form.”
“There is going to be a world tour of 15 events, whatever. Take your pick, 15 or 20 events,” McCord said. “It’s going to be at the top. All the other tours can be below it and they’re going to be sanctioned to bring players in when these players fall out.”
McCord suggested there would be 75 players on the world tour and the the bottom 25 players would be relegated each season and have to reearn their place on the circuit. That would be similar to the PGA Tour’s Designated/Signature event model, which will see the top 50 players in the FedEx Cup exempt into the eight limited-field Signature events next season.
More similar to LIV Golf’s model, however, would be a team event aspect. McCord said that’s where a lot of the value lies.
“What [Tiger Woods’ TGL is] trying to do, and LIV, is build team— build equity in the team,” he said. “And then you go buy the team, you buy the merchandise, you buy all that. The Ryder Cup has put this whole thing in perspective of what to do.
“Let’s let’s look at the economics of it. If I create teams, I build equity in the teams, and I can get people to come in and buy the equity in that team. And then by the process are the revenue streams of that team. That’s huge. Where we’re going with this thing, that is going to be the pinnacle, to get outside revenue coming in.”
Of course, the actual future of both LIV Golf, the PGA Tour and a potential global tour is somewhat clouded in the wake of Rahm’s signing with LIV. The Tour and LIV’s financial backer, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, are under the gun to finalize the framework agreement to merge their commercial golf operations announced on June 6th by the end of this month.
For more from McCord, including more of his thoughts on LIV, check out the full interview below.