Another top PGA golfer is heading to rival golf league LIV Golf, which comes as the two golf leagues are working through a merger.
What Happened: Reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm announced he will be joining the Saudi-Arabian backed LIV Golf.
As reported by ESPN, Rahm is the current third ranked golfer in the world, which could mark another blow to the current PGA Tour.
“This decision was for many reasons what I thought was best for me,” Rahm said. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great deal. I had a really good offer in front of me and it’s one of the reasons why I took it, right?”
The exit by Rahm comes after he previously voiced criticism of the league and said he preferred to stay with the PGA Tour.
No financial terms of the deal were publicly disclosed, but sources said it could be valued at more than $300 million. It’s also reported that Rahm will acquire a stake in his new LIV Golf team, with insiders noting that the league is actively seeking to recruit additional golfers from the PGA Tour.
“Every decision I feel like we make in life, there (will) be somebody who agrees and likes it and somebody who doesn’t. I’ve made this decision because I believe it is the best for me and my family.”
Rahm has earned $51.5 million from the PGA Tour, according to the league’s website. Rahm has 11 tour wins, including four in the 2022-2023 season. Rahm, who had 10 top-10 finishes in the 2022-2023 season, won the Masters and finished tied for second in The Open Championship.
Other top golfers that have left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf, include Cam Smith, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, and Phil Mickelson.
A statement released by the PGA Tour said that the organization is committed to its existing players.
Rahm’s move comes as final details of the merger between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour are being worked out. The current merger deal is set to expire on Dec. 31, which the PGA Tour commissioner recently called a “firm deadline.”
If the deal with LIV Golf falls through, other potential bidders for the PGA Tour could include Fenway Sports Group, Acorn Growth Cos. and Liberty Media Corp LSXMA.
Rahm said that he hopes someday golfers are able to play across multiple tours. He also said he doesn’t plan to resign from the PGA Tour or DP World Tour, in hopes to compete in future events. Rahm’s position in the Ryder Cup will remain a question mark after his PGA Tour exit.
Why It’s Important: In the past, players who have exited the PGA Tour for LIV Golf have been publicly criticized and sometimes lost sponsors, due to the financial backing of the league from the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund.
Rahm noted that sponsor Callaway, which is owned by Topgolf Callaway Brands Corp MODG, would continue their relationship with him.
Callaway’s 2023 extension with Rahm included an equity position in Topgolf Callaway Brands, according to the company. The golfer signed with the golf company in 2021.
Under the terms of the deal, Rahm will use Callaway and Odyssey equipment and “champion Topgolf’s global golf entertainment venue business.”
“I’m so happy to continue this incredible relationship with Callaway and I truly have played the best golf of my career with their equipment,” Rahm said at the time.
Other sponsors of Rahm include Banco Santander SAN and Mercedez Benz Group MBGYY.
Rahm’s exit could impact his inclusion in several PGA Tour events, but a deal in 2023 allowed LIV Golf members to compete in the four major annual golf tournaments.
Here’s a look at the current betting odds for Rahm in the 2024 major tournaments at DraftKings Inc DKNG:
- Masters (April): +800, tied for first best odds
- PGA Championship (May): +900, second-best odds
- US Open (June): +900, second-best odds
- The Open Championship (July): +900, tied second-best odds