LIV’s Jon Rahm appreciates unexpected support from Rory McIlroy
Spaniard’s debut suggests a softening of the negative feelings over golf's new concept
It has developed just how Phil Mickelson projected, with Jon Rahm becoming the bridge that has further quelled tensions between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour.
As Rahm gets set to make his LIV Golf debut this weekend at El Camaleon Golf Club in Mayakoba, Mexico, he expressed appreciation for support that has come from what would have been an unlikely source less than a year ago.
Rory McIlroy, once heavily critical of LIV Golf and the players who joined the upstart tour, has changed his tune so much of late that the PGA Tour star no longer thinks players who have moved on should be prevented from also playing PGA Tour events. He also believes players from both tours should be eligible to play in the Ryder Cup.
“I haven’t spoken to [McIlroy] a lot recently, but he might have had a change in thought process, as in maybe with some of the things he said in the past,” Rahm said from Mexico. “I think he might be seeing that the landscape of golf is changing and at some point, you need to evolve.”
When Rahm’s move to LIV began to settle in as reality in January, and while McIlroy’s feelings softened, Mickelson saw an easier path forward for the two golf entities. He was one of the first big names associated with LIV at its inception.
“Rahm’s signing is turning into a bridge to bring both sides together,” Mickelson wrote on social media in early January.
Rahm’s comments on Wednesday echoed that sentiment. “It’s nice to have support from a player the calibre of Rory, especially those Ryder Cup remarks he made early on,” he said. “I think that’s an important statement for change to be said.”
McIlroy showed further understanding of players defecting to LIV in the light of good friend Tyrrell Hatton’s commitment too in advance of the new season.
“I had a long talk with Tyrrell on Sunday, completely understood where he was coming from,” McIlroy said on Tuesday, according to BBC News.
Hatton’s move to LIV reportedly earned him a signing bonus of more than $60m (R1.1bn), more than he has made in earnings as a player over his PGA career.
“I’ve spoken to Rory a bit in the past week and back in December,” Hatton said. “It’s not a surprise to hear him say [positive things] in the media. Ultimately, I would like to still be able to play events on the other two tours. But we’ll see how all that works out.”
For now, Rahm and Hatton are allowed to participate in PGA Tour events, just like the other players who had defected before them.
Despite the changing sentiments, though, there are other players still not fully convinced that there is complete harmony between the tours, even as a working agreement between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour moved closer this week.
Rahm said his decision to join LIV was not a simple one. “I had to weigh a lot, basically get enough info to then make an informed decision,” he said.
“Even through the process of negotiations, it was just very, very deep waters compared to what I’m used to. I had to be more involved than I thought I was going to have to be.
“But once the announcement was made, everything became a lot easier. Obviously there’s some people that are going to disagree with any decision we make in life,” Rahm said.
“[It was] pretty much in line with what I expected, but it was nice to have some time after that before my first competition round in LIV Golf to process and then actually kind of refocus and get to work.”
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