Masters champion Jon Rahm will feature in the LIV Golf League from the 2024 season, with the Spaniard since suspended by the PGA Tour; Greg Norman anticipates more players to join the Saudi-backed circuit before the new campaign in February
Last Updated: 13/12/23 8:16pm
LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman believes more PGA Tour players are interested in signing up for the 2024 season after Jon Rahm made his switch to the Saudi-backed circuit.
Rahm ended weeks of speculation about his golfing future when he committed to LIV Golf in a reported nine-figure deal, with the Masters champion joining a roster already containing multiple major champions.
The Spaniard has subsequently been suspended by the PGA Tour for moving to LIV Golf, with Norman expecting “more apples falling from the tree” ahead of the new campaign in February.
“To have Jon [Rahm] on board was critically important to our next steps into the future and what we want to do,” Norman told the BBC’s World Business Report. “It will create a domino effect, there will be more apples falling from the tree – there’s no question about it, because LIV continues to grow and develop.”
“Since Jon signed, less than a week ago now, I know my phone is blowing up. I know we probably have eight to 12 players who are very, very keen to sit down and talk to us about coming on board. Time will tell. Right now, our roster is very close to being filled but maybe within two or three [players].
“It tells you the value of what our platform is, where these PGA Tour players see the opportunity that LIV offers. All the guys that play on LIV are just so happy about the decision that they’ve made.
“LIV is a different platform to the DP World Tour or the PGA Tour and the players want to do both quite honestly, so we’ve created something special. It’s a franchise, it’s a team model and they have embraced it 100 per cent.”
Could LIV move away from 54-hole events?
Defending individual champion Talor Gooch says “discussions will be had” about expanding the LIV Golf format from 54 to 72 holes.
Gooch’s comments follow the circuit’s signing of Rahm, who previously criticised the Saudi-backed league’s format of 54-hole, no-cut events with shotgun starts.
“We haven’t had an open forum discussion with all the players,” Gooch told Golf Digest. “But you get both sides … guys who would welcome (playing 72 holes) and some guys who are opposed to it. Discussions will be had and it will be interesting to see what comes of it.
“I think LIV Golf was meant to be something different; I think it’s not supposed to be a carbon copy of the rest of professional golf. I lean towards keeping it at 54 holes.
“Part of it, too, from my experience on the PGA Tour, was Thursdays are just irrelevant from a fan perspective (except for) only a couple times a year.”
Playing only 54 holes was one of the reasons why LIV’s application to receive Official World Golf Ranking points was denied in October, meaning those involved in the league continue to fall down the world rankings and put their qualification status for majors under threat.
Rahm to stay away from public events
Rahm said on Wednesday that he has decided to lay low and would avoid public events until February after agreeing to switch to LIV Golf, with the Spaniard surprised to find TV cameras at an event he was attending in the northern Spanish city of Bilbao.
“I didn’t think there would be any cameras and that it would be a bit more intimate,” Rahm told a select audience at the Sociedad Bilbaina hall, where he was to receive the ‘Dama Bilbaina’ prize in recognition of his sporting career.
“I am under very strict instructions not to do public events, which I have imposed on myself a little bit for myself, and for the change I have given to the world of golf in the last week,” Rahm said, giving a categorical “No!” when asked if he was planning to give an interview.
“There will be nothing until February, I’m not allowed to.”
PGA Tour members demand information over future plans
A group of 21 PGA Tour players have employed law firm Susman Godfrey LLP to address a letter to the PGA Tour policy board, demanding more transparency over ongoing negotiations with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and an outside equity group.
The PGA Tour said in a memo on Sunday that it is advancing negotiations with the PIF, as a deadline to finalize details from the June 6 framework agreement approaches on December 31, but is also in talks with a consortium of US professional sports owners.
With the future of men’s professional golf in the balance, players like Chez Reavie, James Hahn and former Masters champion Danny Willett were among those wanting to know what’s coming.
“The board has recently received multiple bids by prospective capital partners that will potentially transform how the PGA Tour operates, who controls it, and who owns it,” attorney Jacob Buchdahl wrote.
“All but a handful of PGA Tour players have been kept entirely in the dark about the prospective transaction, how it will impact them, and what conflicts of interest may impact the decision-makers.
“We demand full disclosure of the details and analyses of any proposals by prospective capital partners, which should be shared promptly with all tour players.”
Source : Sky Sports