John Rahm’s $900m LIV defection set to make Adelaide field strongest ever

Russell GouldNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: Supplied

The last time Jon Rahm played in Australia he anonymously chipped balls during practice rounds for the 2016 World Cup at Kingston Heath as the world’s 120th ranked player.

But his blockbuster move to Greg Norman’s LIV Golf league, which was confirmed on Friday morning ensures a trip to Adelaide in 2024 for the world No.3 who will be one of seven Masters winners, and two reigning major champions, in action in what could be the best assembled field in Australian history.

As speculation reached fever-pitch in the US, Rahm, who had spoken previously about LIV’s three-round, no-cut tournaments not being “real golf”, confirmed his move on Fox News before a statement LIV Golf locked in the sport-shaking news, leaving golf fans in Adelaide licking their lips.

Rahm wouldn’t reveal the figure he’d signed for, amid reports it could as much as A$907m, and said he didn’t play “for the money”.

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“I can’t comment on that. It’s private and it’s going to stay private,” he said.

“The money is great. Obviously, it’s wonderful. But I do not play golf for the money.

The Game AFL 2024

Two-time major winner and the reigning Masters champion, Jon Rahm and LIV Golf Commissioner and CEO Greg Norman pose for a photo during a LIV Golf announcement at the Park Hyatt New York on Dec. 7, 2023 in New York, New York. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/LIV Golf)
Camera IconTwo-time major winner and the reigning Masters champion, Jon Rahm and LIV Golf Commissioner and CEO Greg Norman. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/LIV Golf) Credit: Supplied

“I am proud to join LIV Golf and be part of something new that is bringing growth to the sport.

“I have no doubt that this is a great opportunity for me and my family and am very excited for the future.”

The inaugural 2023 event, staged at The Grange Golf Club, was a four-day sellout and rated the best golf event of the year, across any tour, at the World Golf Awards.

Already boasting a plethora of major champions, headlined by Australian star Cameron Smith, the addition of Rahm to a field including reigning US PGA champ Brooks Koepka as well as golfing greats Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson could make the 2024 edition beyond compare when it comes to superstar talent.

Confirmation of Rahm’s defection to the Saudi-backed tour, amid ongoing negotiations between the US PGA Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund that could determine LIV’s future, looms as one of biggest wins for Norman, coming ahead of just LIV’s third full season.

Norman hailed Rahm as a “generational talent” who had placed “the game ahead of himself”.

“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,” Norman said.

“There are very few athletes with his pedigree of talent, leadership, poise, and commitment to bringing progress to the sport on a worldwide stage. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Jon to the LIV Golf family as the league continues preparations for a huge 2024 and beyond.”

LIV star and 2021 US Open champ, Bryson DeChambeau, was quick to welcome Rahm to the tour.

“Excited to compete with you once again my man and continue to play with the best players in the world,” he posted on X.

Rahm had been silent since rumours first emerged and remained so with questions abounding about what a move could mean for his Ryder Cup playing status, given all LIV players were shunned from the biennial competition played in Italy this year.

LIV has also been denied world ranking points for events, which would mean a drop down the rankings for Rahm similar to that of Smith, who joined the tour when he was No.2 in the world and is now No.23 and sliding, with his Olympic ambitions on a similar decline.

As Rahm confirmed his decision, another former major champion, Jason Dufner, is also looking to join LIV via the inaugural promotions event in Abu Dhabi.

The 2015 US PGA winner, Dufner said changes to the PGA Tour, his declining status, and the fact LIV would take him around the world made it more palatable than playing in the US.

“You know, when I was in my prime for that decade or so, I played a lot around the world, and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed going to different places,” he said.

“I enjoyed bringing the game of golf to places. I think in the States we’re spoiled because every week is almost a new event in a different location that is in the United States.

“But people in Hong Kong or in Australia or in Abu Dhabi don’t get to see the best players in the world on a week-to-week basis, so I always thought it was important when I was one of the best players in the world to kind of go and play globally, so I think that is very interesting to me that this tour kind of plays that global schedule and hits all these different spots, trying to bring the game of golf.”

Those places, including Australia, will now get to Rahm too.

Originally published as John Rahm’s $900m LIV defection set to make Adelaide field strongest ever

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