Jon Rahm, LIV stars agree LIV-PGA Tour split not sustainable

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Jon Rahm sits down with Marty Smith to discuss his transition to LIV Golf and his future with the PGA Tour. (5:10)
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MIAMI — Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy isn’t the only player who believes the current state of men’s professional golf — with elite players competing on the PGA Tour or in the LIV Golf League — is not sustainable.
Defending Masters champion Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and other LIV Golf League players said the sport needs to be reunited before too many golf fans turn away for good.
“The fans are what drive this sport,” DeChambeau said Wednesday at a pre-tournament news conference at Trump National Doral in Miami. “If we don’t have fans, we don’t have golf. We are not up here entertaining. That’s the most important thing as of right now — the low-hanging fruit. There’s got to be a way to come together.
“And it needs to happen fast. It’s not a two-year thing. Like it needs to happen quicker rather than later just for the good of the sport. Too many people are losing interest.”
Most of the best golfers in the world will play together in next week’s Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. It’s the first of the four major championships, when golfers from the competing circuits will play together. The LIV Golf League will have 13 players, including seven past Masters champions, competing at Augusta National next week.
“The only answer is for us to somehow come together in some sort of terms where it makes sense and for us to be playing all again in somewhat of the same boat,” DeChambeau said. “It’s great to have the majors where we come together, but we want to be competing — at least I want to be competing — every week with all of the best players in the world.”
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and members of the policy board, including Tiger Woods and other player directors, met with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, in the Bahamas on March 18.
The PIF, which has financed the LIV Golf League the past three years, is considering making an investment, possibly for much as $3 billion, in PGA Tour Enterprises, the new for-profit entity the PGA Tour formed with Strategic Sports Group earlier this year. Led by Fenway Sports Group, SSG is a consortium of billionaire sports team owners, athletes and celebrities.
McIlroy, who was one of the PGA Tour’s most vocal supporters during its battle with LIV Golf, now says the competing circuits need to find common ground.
“There needs to be a correction,” McIlroy told Golf Monthly. “I think what’s happening is not sustainable right now, so something needs to happen to try to bring it all back together so we can all move forward so we don’t have this division that’s sort of ongoing.
“They keep going down those different paths and I just don’t see how that benefits anyone in the long run. … I think [it’s] a shame for the overall game of golf.”
Mickelson, who helped LIV Golf CEO and commissioner Greg Norman launch the circuit by recruiting PGA Tour players, said the sport is still in a “transitional state” with a lot of “disruption” more than two years after it launched.
“I don’t know how it’s going to end out, exactly, or what it’s going to look like,” Mickelson said. “I’m putting my trust in Yasir and where the game is headed more globally. But at some point, when it gets ironed out, I think it’s going to be in a much better place where we bring the best players from the world, and it’s going to open up more opportunities for manufacturing, course design, for players in different parts of the world to be inspired and enter the game. I think it’s going to be in a much better place.
“But right now, we are in the disruption phase, so we are in the middle of the process. And when it’s all said and done, it’s going to be a lot brighter. But while we go through it, it’s challenging. But we’ll get there.”
Rahm, who jumped from the PGA Tour to the LIV Golf League in December after agreeing to a multiyear contract that reportedly is worth more than $350 million, said he believes there is room for both tours.
“I think I agree with that statement, yeah,” Rahm said. “Every time I get asked a question like this, I say the same thing: I think there’s room for both. It’s as simple as that. I think we have the opportunity to end up with an even better product for the spectators and the fans of the game. A little bit more variety doesn’t really hurt anybody. So I think, properly done, we can end up with a much better product that can take golf to the next level worldwide, and I’m hoping that’s what ends up happening.”
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation of the PGA Tour’s potential alliance with the PIF. The review could take as long as 18 months, antitrust experts previously told ESPN, meaning top golfers might continue playing on rival tours through 2025.
“It’s tough to tell the future,” reigning PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka said. “I have no control over anything. [I’ll] just keep going wherever they tell me to go. Same with the PGA Tour guys. I just don’t think anybody knows the future. Nobody knows on this side. Nobody knows on that side. It’s up to people that are more important than me and more important than a bunch of the players to decide. We’ll let them figure it out and go from there.”

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