Jon Rahm’s curious PGA Tour remarks raise eyebrows at PGA Championship

jon rahm speaks at press conference at the PGA Championship in blue shirt and red hat

Jon Rahm’s defense of the PGA Tour raised eyebrows Tuesday at the PGA Championship.

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It’s always difficult to stay on good terms with an old flame.

Somewhere between the scorched earth ex and the definitely still in love is a happy medium that can be hard to find. Especially if, like Jon Rahm, you’ve never fully broken in the first place.

Of course we’re not talking about love, we’re talking LIV. And when it came to Rahm’s new employer at the PGA Championship on Tuesday, Rahm was feeling…perhaps a little too attached to his old fling.

“See, you keep saying ‘the other side“But I’m still a member of the PGA Tour, whether it’s suspended or not,” Rahm said Tuesday morning at the PGA Championship. “I always want to support the PGA Tour. And I think that’s an important distinction to make.

That distinction is the status of his PGA Tour membership, which remains murky thanks to the ever-tedious details of the PGA Tour rulebook. Basically, there are three categories of defections from LIV Golf among the professional golf player class. There are those who have remained loyal to the Tour, those who have freely given up their Tour membership in favor of the greener pastures of LIV Golf and then there is Rahm’s category: Those who have never officially left the Tour, but started playing for LIV Golf.

Confused? Let’s explain. When LIV was created, the Tour had no formal way to “ban” players from competition by revoking their membership. On the contrary, the only disciplinary path of the Tour was to to suspend those who have broken Tour rules by participating in Tour events, with penalties compounded for each successive LIV event played. Since this path left open the possibility of a major reunion, a small but notable contingent of LIV players continued to compete for the rival tour without ever formally renouncing their Tour membership.

Rahm was the leader of this contingent. The two-time major winner was perhaps LIV’s most sympathetic defection, walking away with the Tour at the end of 2023 without so much as a bad word uttered by most Tour players. Gone was the acrimony and explosiveness that had been associated with so many early defections, replaced by a decidedly unusual breed of do not judge, lest you be judged resistance fighters from the Tour.

Rahm is popular, considered by many of his peers to be an honest man, which explains his treatment by his counterparts. On Tuesday, it was clear that for Rahm, the feeling was mutual.

“I don’t feel like I’m on the other side,” Rahm said. “I just don’t play there. It is at least for me personally.

It was strange to hear Rahm speak so enthusiastically about the Tour he happily left for several million dollars last winter — and stranger still to hear him triple down on his warmth toward the Tour. Of course, it’s one thing to leave amicably, as Rahm’s LIV teammate Dustin Johnson did, but it’s another to present a vision of golf that seems so incongruous with reality .

For the foreseeable future, Rahm’s current and former employers are at war, and the status of that war has been affected in no small way by Rahm’s decision to leave. He has undermined his professional colleagues, and they would have every reason to feel rejected and angered by his decision-making, without sympathizing with some of the hopes shared Tuesday.

“Even though I play LIV Golf full time, I’ve said many times, if I had been allowed, I would have played some (PGA Tour) events earlier in the year,” Rahm said . “And if it was allowed in the future and didn’t conflict with my schedule, I would play in the future.”

It didn’t take long for the recklessness of Rahm’s comments to reach the general golf public. Minutes after his press conference, Golf Channel’s Arron Oberholser looked into a camera and said he’d like to “call Rahm by the neck.”

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“He doesn’t understand,” Oberholser said. “To this day, he doesn’t understand.”

Oberholser’s criticism is correct. In fact, that’s exactly the kind of criticism Rahm said he knew he’d receive if he joined LIV in December. But the fact that Rahm delivered his comments anyway points to a larger subplot in Rahm’s defection to LIV.

The truth is, it never made much sense for Rahm, a golfer who proudly presents himself as an expert on the history and legacy of the sport, to go into a league without either. And it makes perfect sense that Rahm, a golfer whose golf knows no limits, would want a future in which he can freely chart his course among all golf tours available.

None of these things mean that Rahm deserved these rights. Some would say (very strikingly) that he gave them back the second he signed on the dotted line. But it’s telling that LIV’s hottest arrival still wants the best for her ex — and maybe sometimes wishes they were still together.

“That’s why I think it’s important (to say I’m still a member of the PGA Tour),” Rahm said. “The PGA Tour has given me so much, and given me this platform and opportunity that I’m not really going to turn around and object to it, because I’m not going to object to it.”

Ah, the things we do for love.

James Colgan

Publisher of

James Colgan is News and Features Editor at GOLF, writing articles for the website and magazine. He manages Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and uses his on-camera experience across all of the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he served as a caddy scholarship (and trick looper) on Long Island, where he is originally from. He can be contacted at [email protected].

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