LIV’s Jon Rahm still considers himself part of PGA Tour

Jon Rahm is back to compete against his former PGA Tour brethren this week in Louisville, Ky., and even before the first competitive shot in the PGA Championship has been fired, the former World No. 1 has the field aflutter.

Rahm was the latest to bolt to Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf, yet on Tuesday he still claimed PGA Tour ties, even as his pockets are filled with a reported $500 million he received for switching tours.

If Rahm was there to talk about another chance at winning a major title at Valhalla Golf Club, which is playing host to its fourth PGA Championship, the conversation became anything but.

“So you guys keep saying the other side, but I’m still a PGA Tour member,” Rahm said when asked how he sees recent upheaval on the PGA Tour board now that he is an LIV member. “Whether it’s suspended or not, I still want to support the PGA Tour and I think that is an important distinction to make.”

Except that Rahm could have made the distinction himself, by staying in an organization that he claims means so much to him. He elected to make the jump, but it certainly wasn’t because of how LIV runs its events.

Rahm has been critical of LIV’s 54-hole formats both before he joined the tour and as recently as last month when he played at The Masters. It’s called LIV, after all, the Roman numeral for 54.

While making the best of his LIV reality should be his focus now, the PGA Tour remains on his mind.

“I don’t feel like I’m on the other side — I’m just not playing there — at least personally,” Rahm said.

All along, Rahm has been conflicted. He declared his “fealty” to the PGA Tour way back in early 2022. And while saying it was the only time he would address the subject, he repeated the loyalty stance multiple times as he bashed the LIV format along the way.

But with rumors circulating late last year that Rahm might defect, the native of Spain made the move official in December.

Major defections are why the PGA Tour board is in flux with Jimmy Dunne stepping down Monday. Dunne authored the framework of an agreement between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund but one year later, the sides have not figured out how to strike an equitable partnership.

Rahm simply washed his hands of the situation.

“I don’t know what’s going on right now,” Rahm said. “I haven’t really spoken enough to know what is going on with the board and obviously people are not going to be willing to share that information with me since I’m no longer part of those discussions. … I am going to say what I’ve said all along: I hope we reach a resolution and the resolution is beneficial for everyone.”

In that scenario, Rahm stands to benefit most by getting his LIV payday and potentially getting to compete on a regular basis again with his former PGA Tour competition.

In the end, Rahm was asked why it was important to still represent himself as a PGA Tour member, even as a suspended one.

“Again, I’ve said, however I can, I would like to support them,” Rahm said without a hint of irony. “So even though I’m playing full time on LIV Golf, like I said many times, had I been allowed, I would have played some (PGA Tour) events earlier in the year.

“… The PGA Tour has given me so much and has given me this platform and the opportunity that I’m not really going to really turn to the side and throw away and go against it. Because I’m not going against it.”

The juxtaposition of what Rahm has done and said is striking.

As he seeks a PGA Championship win to pair with U.S. Open (2021) and Masters (2023) titles, the talk regarding Rahm was expected to be about the chance to add another major championship to his resume. But the week of his eighth PGA Championship appearance has started down a different route.

“It’s not really the same,” Rahm said during his press conference.

He was talking about the Valhalla Golf Club layout in comparison to previous PGA Championships, primarily in 2000 and 2014. Yet, he could have been talking about something else entirely.

–Field Level Media