Andrew Redington/Getty Pictures
heck in each week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors as they break down the most popular matters within the sport, and be part of the dialog by tweeting us at @golf_com. This week, we focus on Jon Rahm’s surprising choice to signal with LIV Golf and the aftermath for the PGA Tour.
1. Including to per week that already had an announcement of a controversial golf-ball rollback (you’ll be able to learn that particular version of Tour Confidential right here), World No. 3 Jon Rahm joined LIV Golf for a deal that’s reported to be effectively into 9 figures. Not way back Rahm stated he had no real interest in the up-start league and that loopy cash wouldn’t change his way of life anyway. So, what occurred?
Josh Sens, senior author (@joshsens): The massive factor that modified is the golf panorama, wherein the Tour did a sneaky about-face on doing enterprise with the Saudis (giving gamers free license to do the identical) and the Saudis, with a deadline to a possible settlement fast-approaching and the Tour speaking to different suitors, had all of the extra incentive to achieve added negotiation leverage. What didn’t change is that the Saudis have bottomless monetary sources and everybody has a worth.
Zephyr Melton, assistant editor (@zephyrmelton): After the Tour confirmed they have been prepared to do enterprise with the Saudis, all bets have been off. Rahm stayed via the chaos of early defections — watching his colleagues receives a commission a whole lot of thousands and thousands — and received little or no from the Tour in return for his loyalty. With the Tour and LIV seeking to merge sooner or later, he could as effectively get his bag whereas he can.
James Colgan, information and options editor (@jamescolgan26): Yeah, LIV provided Rahm a metric ton of money, which was sufficient to tip the metaphorical scales. However I additionally suppose LIV provided him one thing the PGA Tour didn’t: the chance to be the face (and the voice) of the league. In a world the place the Saudis have their palms deep in each leagues, the “legacy” provided by the PGA Tour paled compared. Oh, and the eight zeroes helped.
2. Rahm appeared to be a participant who cared deeply about successful among the PGA Tour’s marquee occasions, as soon as saying “There’s that means once you win the Memorial. There’s that means once you win Arnold Palmer’s occasion at Bay Hill. There’s a that means once you win, LA, Torrey, among the historic venues. That to me issues lots.” Does Rahm signing with LIV Golf imply he’s moved on from that earlier stance, or is there an opportunity he is aware of one thing we don’t learn about the way forward for the 2 leagues?
Sens: Presumably. It’s not arduous to think about a merger, or a world the place obstacles between the 2 circuits disappear, permitting gamers to leap forwards and backwards. However what appears extra related to Rahm is that, along with his exemptions and his standings, will nonetheless get to play within the occasions that matter to him most it doesn’t matter what.
Melton: I discover it arduous to consider Rahm is aware of a lot about the way forward for the 2 leagues as a result of it looks like even they don’t know what the long run holds. It’s extra possible that they made him a suggestion he merely couldn’t refuse.
Colgan: I feel we’ve seen sufficient proof from earlier defections that declarations of allegiance to both league aren’t well worth the air they’re spoken into. Everyone’s received a plan till they’re staring down life-changing cash.
3. Now the golf world waits for extra dominos to fall, particularly since Rahm will captain one in all his personal LIV groups. Do you see extra PGA Tour gamers or massive names becoming a member of LIV within the coming weeks? Who could be on their radar?
Sens: Latest remarks from Tony Finau’s orbit make it sound like he’s already gone. However different names being bandied about — mainly Hatton, possibly Hovland?- appear extremely real looking, too. After all, Rory leaping would make me spill my espresso. However at this level, there’s not a lot information that would trigger a lot shock.
Melton: It sounds prefer it’s a matter of when, not if, extra massive names comply with Rahm. Tony Finau and Tyrrell Hatton look like prime candidates.
Colgan: We’ve seen Finau and Hatton’s names tied to Rahm, which makes some stage of sense (and likewise provides LIV a staff full of three of golf’s all-time good guys). I feel the larger information, after Rahm, is that no person is off the radar anymore.
4. The place do the PGA Tour, and commissioner Jay Monahan, go from right here? And what does Rahm leaving for LIV imply for the continuing merger talks with a deadline for a deal looming later this month?
Melton: I’m undecided the place Monahan goes from right here. It doesn’t appear like he’s received many playing cards left to play. As for the merger, plucking off Rahm (with others certain to comply with) provides the Saudis that rather more bargaining energy.
Colgan: In signing Rahm, the PIF ostensibly places a gun to Monahan’s head because it pertains to merger conversations. His best choice is to wish these negotiations finalize earlier than one other star jumps ship — as everybody on the desk now is aware of. I feel we will really feel assured issues are going to get transferring rapidly, because the Tour’s new partnership of billionaires signifies.
Sens: I’ve a vacation fruitcake that I believe shall be round longer than Monahan. I’d be stunned if he’s nonetheless commish subsequent yr. As James says, the urgency for talks is bigger than ever, however any merger would nonetheless must move muster with regulators. The brief reply is, one other yr of a divided skilled sport, even when the court docket fights are carried out.
5. Rahm leaving was a dagger to the PGA Tour, not solely as a result of he’s well-known however as a result of he simply received the Masters, is in his prime and was purported to be a core piece the PGA Tour builds round. In case you are a PGA Tour participant, what are you most interested in concerning the way forward for your league?
Sens: So many issues. Who shall be left to compete towards week in and week out? How powerful will or not it’s to retain sponsors? What’s going to occur with world rankings, gateways to the majors? What occurs to prize cash? Ought to I look to begin incomes my residing in pickleball?
Melton: I’d be asking if the league will even exist in 5 years. In the event that they maintain hemorrhaging stars, there received’t be a lot of a product to promote sooner or later.
Colgan: I’m questioning at what level we begin asking if all one of the best gamers on the planet are nonetheless on the PGA Tour.
6. Any parting ideas, our esteemed Tour Confidential panel?
Sens: The Rahm headlines depend as massive information. However in the end, I feel, you’ll be able to remake rosters, schedules and contracts all you need, and there’ll nonetheless be solely a small variety of occasions that draw curiosity past the hard-core fan base. The professional golf market has been made irrational by limitless Saudi funding and the cash being thrown at gamers distorts their precise world. A extra rational world would have fewer occasions and never as many millionaires. It’s no marvel so many followers appear postpone nowadays. The present local weather isn’t wholesome, regardless of how wealthy some gamers get.
Melton: Though having the celebrities cut up up on two excursions hurts the week-to-week product, it makes the majors that rather more compelling. If the followers can solely see all the celebrities sq. off 4 instances a yr, these tourneys grow to be must-see TV. See y’all in April.
Colgan: The Tour’s Sunday evening announcement that it has “superior negotiations” with the “Strategic Sports activities Group” is HUGE information. HUGE. The SSG is headlined by possibly the best assortment of sports activities house owners ever assembled (house owners of not less than 9 professional sports activities franchises, by my depend), and guarantees to infuse billions into the Tour. Along with an settlement with the PIF, the Tour’s monetary future may very well be getting ready to a tectonic shift.