“I am proud to join LIV Golf and be part of something new that is bringing growth to the sport,” said Rahm. “I have no doubt that this is a great opportunity for me and my family and am very excited for the future.”
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report Rahm, the Masters champion, was about to sign a deal that various reports have put anywhere from US$300 million to US$600 million (NZ$486m to NZ$972m).
LIV Golf commissioner and CEO Greg Norman said: “When I first met Jon at the age of 17, I knew then that the golfing world was about to witness the birth of a new star. Jon has consistently validated that he is one of the top players in the world. He’s a generational talent who has proven his merit as a multiple major champion and tremendous ambassador for global golf by placing the game ahead of himself.”
Rahm’s impact as one of the most dominant players of the past decade spans the globe. The 29-year-old has amassed 20 wins, including the 2023 Masters, 2021 US Open and the DP World Tour Championship three times (2017, 2019, 2022). The Spaniard has played in three consecutive Ryder Cups, helping lead Team Europe to victory in 2018 and 2023. This year, Rahm won four times while also finishing tied for second in the 151st Open Championship and tied for fifth in the DP World Tour Championship.
Rahm is the biggest catch yet by LIV Golf, a 29-year-old Spaniard just coming into the prime of his career. And it comes at a time when the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund are trying to finalise their framework agreement for a new commercial deal that includes the European tour.
The agreement stunned the golf world when it was announced earlier this year and attracted the interest of the Justice Department and Congress, which has held two hearings on the deal. Since then, other private equity firms have joined the negotiations.
The framework agreement originally had language that would put a stop to poaching players, but that was removed at the Justice Department’s request.
Signing with LIV counters everything Rahm has previously said about the league. He has declared his support for the PGA Tour dating to February 2022. As recently as August he told a Spanish podcast that “I laugh when people rumour with LIV Golf. I’ve never liked the format.”
The reports indicate Rahm would have his own four-man team at LIV Golf, which enters its third season next year offering $20m purses for 54 holes with no cut. His equity in a team would likely contribute to the deal he signs.
Rahm had said as LIV was recruiting players for its start in 2022 that “the only appeal I see is monetary, right?”
“So like I said just earlier on, I think there’s a lot more to be able to play for besides just money on the PGA Tour. There’s history, there’s legacy. At the end of the day, I’m in this to win tournaments, I’m in this to play against the best in the world,” he said.
Rahm will compete in the LIV Golf League beginning next season, which kicks off February 2-4, 2024, at LIV Golf Mayakoba in Mexico.