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USA Today Sports Media Group
Adam Woodard

Everything Jon Rahm has said about LIV Golf and the PGA Tour over the last two years

Jon Rahm is one of the more thoughtful minds in the world of professional golf and his press conferences have become must-watch entertainment over the last few years.

The two-time major champion and world No. 3 has been in the headlines over the last few months as the rumor mill has churned out report after report of his interest in joining LIV Golf. On Thursday, the news became official that he was leaving behind the PGA Tour to join the upstart circuit led by Greg Norman and financially backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

Here’s what Rahm has said about LIV Golf and the PGA Tour over the last two years, both before and after the announcement of the controversial framework agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

CHANGE OF TUNE: What players like DJ, Brooks and Bryson said about LIV before, after they joined

February 2022: 'Declaring my fealty'

Jon Rahm hits from the twelfth tee during the second round of the Genesis Invitational golf tournament. (Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

“I wanted to take this time to say that this is my official, my one and only time to talk about this, where I am officially declaring my fealty to the PGA Tour,” Rahm said ahead of the 2022 Genesis Invitational. “I’m a PAC [Player Advisory Council] member and I have a lot of belief in Jay Monahan and the product.

“There’s been a lot of talk and speculation on the Saudi league and it’s just not something that I believe is best for me and my future in golf and I think the best legacy I can accomplish is on the PGA Tour.

“Everybody’s free to make their own choice, it’s as simple as that. All I can say is from somebody young like myself who has his entire future ahead of him, it doesn’t seem like a smart thing. Again, 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.”

June 2022: 'Shotgun three days to me is not a golf tournament'

Jon Rahm watches his shot on the 17th hole during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament. (Photo: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

“I consider the PGA Tour has done an amazing job giving us the best platform for us to perform. I do see the appeal that other people see towards the LIV Golf. I do see some of the – I’ll put this delicately – points or arguments they can make towards why they prefer it. To be honest, part of the (LIV) format is not really appealing to me. Shotgun three days to me is not a golf tournament, no cut. It’s that simple,” Rahm said at the 2022 U.S. Open. “I want to play against the best in the world in a format that’s been going on for hundreds of years. That’s what I want to see.”

Rahm said he understood why the money would appeal to certain players but that it was not a huge selling point for him, and added that he and his wife discussed the matter as the Saudis pitched big-dollar money at golf’s marquee names.

“Will our lifestyle change if I got $400 million? No, it will not change one bit,” he said. “Truth be told, I could retire right now with what I’ve made and live a very happy life and not play golf again. So I’ve never really played the game of golf for monetary reasons. I play for the love of the game, and I want to play against the best in the world. I’ve always been interested in history and legacy, and right now the PGA Tour has that.

“There’s meaning when you win the Memorial Championship. There’s meaning when you win Arnold Palmer’s event at Bay Hill. There’s a meaning when you win, LA, Torrey, some of the historic venues. That to me matters a lot, right. After winning this past U.S. Open, only me and Tiger have won at Torrey Pines, and it’s a golf course that we like, making putts on the 18th hole. That’s a memory I’m going to have forever that not many people can say. My heart is with the PGA Tour. That’s all I can say.”

August 2022: 'They chose to leave the PGA Tour, they chose to go join another tour knowing the consequences'

Jon Rahm plays his shot from the 11th tee during the second round of the BMW Championship at Wilmington Country Club on August 19, 2022 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Rahm wasn’t focused on LIV Golf during the end of the 2021-22 campaign, so little, in fact, that he wasn’t aware of a court hearing before the 2022 FedEx Cup Playoffs that denied LIV players Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford access to the first playoff event.

“Well, I can tell you I had zero attention on it. I only found out that it was going on because I walked by player dining and I saw about ten really nervous people pacing all around the room and I thought, ‘Well, there’s something going on,’” Rahm said at the BMW Championship during FedEx Cup Playoffs. “I asked and heard what was going on. But I never really — I was in the room when the judge made her decision known, but only because I was walking by and they told me it was time. So I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll stay.’

“They chose to leave the PGA Tour, they chose to go join another tour knowing the consequences; and then try to come back and get, you know, courts and justice in the way wouldn’t have, I would say, sit extremely well with me.

“It’s not the last thing we are going to hear from them, but I don’t know. I just started watching the show Suits, so I’m kind of learning now about what happens in a courtroom,” he said with a laugh.

LIV Golf poached a few of the Tour’s best talents and characters, but Rahm viewed that loss as an addition by subtraction.

“One of the great things about the PGA Tour is the depth of field,” said Rahm, singling out rising stars like Will Zalatoris and Cameron Young. “So there’s always a hungrier future star coming that’s willing to put in the work and make themselves known. Lack of talent on the PGA Tour and the world of golf is not an issue.”

October 2022: LIV players in the Ryder Cup

Tommy Fleetwood of Team Europe celebrates winning his match against Rickie Fowler of Team United States (not pictured) with teammates Jon Rahm and Nicolai Hojgaard on the 17th green after clinching the Ryder Cup during the Sunday singles matches of the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf Club on October 01, 2023 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Rahm told the Telegraph in Oct. 2022 that he felt LIV Golf players should be able to tee it up in the Ryder Cup.

“The Ryder Cup is not the PGA Tour and European Tour against LIV – it’s Europe versus the US, period,” Rahm said. “The best of each against the other, and for me the Ryder Cup is above all. I wish they could play, but it doesn’t look good.”

The only LIV player to compete in the Ryder Cup was Brooks Koepka on Team USA.

October 2022: 'I think there’s some great changes being made and great changes for the players on the Tour'

Jon Rahm watches the tee shot of Phil Mickelson on the 18th hole during a practice round of The Open Championship golf tournament at Royal Liverpool. (Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

When asked about Phil Mickelson’s comments that the PGA Tour is trending downward, Rahm chuckled and said, “Man, I love Phil, but I don’t know what he’s talking about. I really, really don’t know why he said that.

“There’s been some changes being made, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going down, right?” Rahm added. “I truly don’t know why he said that. Don’t know. I really don’t know.

“I think there’s some great changes being made and great changes for the players on the Tour,” he continued. “I truly don’t know what drove him to say something like.”

November 2022: 'We should be thankful that LIV happened'

Jon Rahm of Spain plays a shot on the third hole during the first round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course on December 01, 2022 in Nassau, Bahamas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Rahm acknowledged at the 2022 Hero World Challenge that he and his fellow PGA Tour players have benefited from the formation of LIV Golf and argued that LIV’s aggressive spending to attract players has sped up the Tour’s plans to raise purses and implement the lucrative Player Impact Program.

“I think on this side of things we should be thankful that LIV happened,” Rahm said. “I don’t know if those changes would have happened if LIV wasn’t in the picture. So to an extent, yeah, we should be thankful.

“(Money is) not why I started playing, it’s not the reason why I play,” Rahm said. “So when I’m doing my schedule, when I’m practicing and I’m getting my things done, money is not really on my mind. If it was, I probably might have gone to LIV, right? If money is your goal, that’s clearly the path to go down. Every decision I make when it comes to golf is to become the best player I can become.”

January 2023: 'I think we see the direction the PGA Tour is going towards'

Jon Rahm hoists the trophy after winning the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in Maui, Hawaii. (Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

“Yeah, I mean, I think we all know where we stand. There’s still going to be players that choose to transition to LIV is my guess,” said Rahm at the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions. “But for a lot of us, I think we see the direction the PGA Tour is going towards, right? I mean, they’re making the necessary changes to adapt to the new age and I think it’s better for everybody.

“I think it’s going to be the same. I mean, I didn’t feel a difference in any of the majors last year,” Rahm added, addressing how he thought LIV and Tour players would interact at majors. “If somebody has a problem with LIV players, they’re just not going to deal with them and that’s about it. In my mind, like I’ve said it before, I respect their choice and the ones I was friends with before I’m still going to be friends with, right? It doesn’t change the way I’m going to operate with them.

“So I think a lot of, let’s say, animosity, if there’s any, might be created more by (the media) than anything else,” he said. “I don’t think there’s that much of a problem between players, at least in person, because if there is, they can avoid each other.”

June 2023: 'A lot of people feel a bit of betrayal from management'

Jon Rahm reacts after a putt on the first green during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Los Angeles Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

“I thought my phone was going to catch on fire at one point. There were so many questions that I just couldn’t answer. It’s basically what it was,” Rahm said of the June 6 framework agreement announcement. “I think it was that day at one point I told (wife Kelley) I’m just going to throw my phone in the drawer and not look at it for the next four hours because I can’t deal with this anymore.”

Rahm echoed the sentiment of many when he said he had no warning that such a deal was in the works. He said he wants to believe that Monahan and his leadership is the right one going forward.

“I think the general feeling is that a lot of people feel a bit of betrayal from management,” he added. “I understand why they had to keep it so secret. I understand we couldn’t make it through a PAC meeting with more than 10 minutes after people spilling the beans right away in some article by you guys already being out there. So I get it. I get the secrecy.

“It’s just not easy as a player that’s been involved, like many others, to wake up one day and see this bombshell. That’s why we’re all in a bit of a state of limbo because we don’t know what’s going on and how much is finalized and how much they can talk about, either.”

July 2023: 'I do believe that some punishment should be in order, but I don’t know what'

Jon Rahm plays on the fourth hole during the second round of The Open Championship golf tournament at Royal Liverpool. (Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Rahm doesn’t think he should be compensated for his loyalty to the PGA Tour, but he won’t stop anyone that wants to do so.

“It’s a tricky question,” Rahm said ahead of the 2023 British Open. “So I understand the PGA Tour wanting to do something for those players who helped and stayed on the PGA Tour, but at the same time – and I’ll be the first one to say – I wasn’t forced into anything. It was my choice to stay. Do I think they absolutely should be and there must be a compensation? No. I just stayed because I think it’s the best choice for myself and for the golf I want to play.

“Now, with that said, if they want to do it, I’m not going to say no.

“We all had the chance to go to LIV and take the money and we chose to stay at the PGA Tour for whatever reason we chose. As I’ve said before, I already make an amazing living doing what I do. I’m extremely thankful, and that all happened because of the platform the PGA Tour provided me. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve done enough for me, and their focus should be on improving the PGA Tour and the game of golf for the future generations.

“I can understand people on the PGA Tour not wanting (players who left for LIV) back, and I can also understand why some of them want to come back. There’s some great events that a lot of people probably want to go and play again, some great golf courses, as well,” Rahm said. “I do believe that some punishment should be in order, but I don’t know what – I’m not a politician. That’s not my job. That’s for the disciplinary board and other people that are paid to do that. My job is to hit the golf ball and try to do the best I can.

“I think what the management of the PGA Tour, the turn they took without us knowing was very unexpected, but I still think he’s been doing a great job,” Rahm said of commissioner Jay Monahan and the June 6 announcement. “And right now after that happened, I only think it’s fair to give them the right time to work things out.”

September 2023: 'I think it would be really stupid of anybody not to lean on Sergio García’s experience in the Ryder Cup'

Team Europe player Sergio Garcia and Team Europe player Jon Rahm celebrate winning their match on the 17th green during day two foursomes rounds for the 43rd Ryder Cup golf competition at Whistling Straits. (Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

“I think it would be really stupid of anybody not to lean on Sergio García’s experience in the Ryder Cup,” said Rahm when asked if he would like to see his friend back in the fold as a vice-captain. “I mean, he is the best player Europe has ever had, won the most points and has shown it time and time again. If he were able to be a vice captain, I absolutely would lean on him. Same as we are going to lean on (Jose Maria Olazabal) this coming Ryder Cup, right.

“I would like to see (LIV players in the Ryder Cup) but unfortunately we’ve seen some of those players give up their (DP World) Tour status where that’s no longer a possibility,” he said. “So I would like to see it but we don’t know what the future holds, right? I think with this agreement or this possible union between the PGA Tour, DP World and PIF might change things a little bit.”

August 2023: 'I laugh when people rumor me with LIV Golf'

Jon Rahm addresses the media during a press conference at East Lake Golf Club ahead of the 2023 Tour Championship. (Photo: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

Jon Rahm was a guest on the Spanish golf podcast, Golf Sin Etiquetas, and discussed LIV Golf in detail.

“I laugh when people rumor me with LIV Golf,” Rahm said in Spanish. “I’ve never liked the format. And I always have a good time with Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia in the practice rounds of majors.

“Phil respects my decision, and I respect his (choice),” Rahm said. “Mickelson has told me that I have no reason to go play for LIV, and he has told me that multiple times.

“Two minutes before the announcement came out, someone from the PGA Tour contacted me and told me everything,” Rahm said. “I thought it was a joke. And this is what they should have done from the beginning. Instead, they generated division and then decided to come together again.”

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