The balance of power in men’s professional golf may be shifting. Jon Rahm, the No. 3 ranked player in the world, is reportedly leaving the PGA Tour for LIV Golf.
Numerous sources have confirmed Rahm to have landed in New York City to finalize the deal.
Rose pointed to a serious problem facing the PGA Tour in the future.
“We’re all trying to evaluate PGA Tour versus LIV in the sense of the fan base and the economics around both tours, but he’s the delta. He moves the delta. He weakens one side and strengthens the other. So it’s a big move,” Rose said to Sports Illustrated.
“I don’t know who else goes with Jon. I mean, obviously if it’s just Jon, that’s bad enough. What does that mean now to the trickle if it’s Jon plus a trickle?”
I am not going to put words in Rose’s mouth. He is not flat out saying that either he nor anyone else specifically is debating joining LIV. But when someone says they are evaluating the two tours, and one of the aspects they are looking at is economics, it raises eyebrows.
LIV Golf is bankrolled by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is worth over $700 billion. That has allowed them to poach some of the game’s biggest stars, including Rahm for what is believed to be in the $500 million range.
Beyond the financial implications, the 2013 U.S. Open champion also touched on the other important aspect of this.
Among the mass exodus over a year ago, 13 players were major winners. But Phil Mickelson who has the most with six, is obviously well past his prime. Brooks Koepka has five, but not many viewed his departure a huge loss to the Tour, knowing the discord between some of the other PGA Tour stars and Koepka.
But Rahm is different. The 29-year-old Spaniard carries with him a lot of weight. He is the reigning Masters champion, at the top of his game, in his prime, and is universally liked.
He was extremely vocal in the past about his distaste for LIV, going so far as to pledge his allegiance to the PGA Tour. Yet, here we are.
In September, he was a huge part of the European Ryder Cup decimation of Team USA. You could tell how much it meant to him throughout the competition. He is obviously aware that no LIV golfer was allowed to compete on the European Ryder Cup team.
So, either Rahm was simply swayed by generational wealth (which is clearly plausible), or he envisions a different landscape of golf in the future. Either or both could be true and in both cases, it spells trouble for the PGA Tour.
Kendall Capps is the Senior Editor of SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social media platforms.