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Rahm’s big bet on a move to LIV

Jon Rahm Ryder Cup Jon Rahm - The Canadian Press

After weeks of speculation, Jon Rahm is set to move to LIV Golf, and really, who can blame him?

First reported by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, the signing comes with plenty of reasons for Rahm to jump ship from the PGA Tour.

For instance, he has a close connection to LIV’s lead recruiter, Phil Mickelson. In college, Rahm was coached by Mickelson’s brother, Tim, who became his agent after he turned professional. Phil, as only Phil can, likely had a lot to say about why the switch to LIV made sense.

You can be sure that Sergio Garcia did as well. The Spanish connection is strong, and Rahm has let it be known that Garcia was influential in his career as he was starting out. Now Garcia is probably prominent in Rahm signing what will be the sport’s most lucrative deal.

Unlike many other LIV golfers, Rahm has little to worry about when it comes to major championships. He’s exempt for all four for the next five years thanks to last year’s Masters win, and he’ll be able to drive down Magnolia Lane each April for as long as he wants.

World ranking points? Who needs them?

But the biggest reason Rahm has gone to LIV is money – a lot of money.

Reports say his deal could be worth more than $300 million. Despite all of the past pledges of loyalty he made to the PGA Tour and saying that he didn’t play for money, that kind of number is enough to make anyone change their mind. It’s not just life-changing, it’s generational. Rahm’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will be flush for decades.

For Rahm, the move could also be a bet that the current talks between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) will eventually bring all of golf back together as one big, happy family. So, take the money now, and in a few years, everything goes back to normal, or at least whatever that new normal looks like.

The morality of dealing with the Saudis? That went out the window as soon as the PGA Tour entered into negotiations with PIF.

The biggest bet in this signing, however, isn’t by Rahm, it’s by LIV. While the circuit enjoys popularity in some locations such as Australia, the tour has been hard-pressed to draw meaningful crowds in most of its U.S. locations.

It’s also still without a major network television contract that would allow the casual golf fan to watch. Most Canadian golf enthusiasts wouldn’t know where to find a LIV broadcast on their televisions. Will Rahm alone change that?

It might actually go the other direction. Players such as Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson are rarely heard from these days and Brooks Koepka’s profile was boosted only after his PGA Championship win and Ryder Cup appearance. Rahm could be the next great player to fade into obscurity in the depths of LIV Golf.

While the negotiations between PIF and the PGA Tour continue with a Dec. 31 deadline looming, golf seems more fractured than ever. Rahm’s signing could be PIF telling the PGA Tour to sit down and start dealing with a little more intensity or we’ll raid your locker room again. In most boardrooms, the side with the most money almost always wins.

For now, LIV can trumpet its newest addition and the PGA Tour will go back and lick its wounds as it tries to figure out just where golf is going.