HOYLAKE, England – Jon Rahm struck a different tone than some of his other high-profile peers on Tuesday, saying that PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan deserves time to work through the framework agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and that the stars who remained on the Tour don’t necessarily need to be compensated for their loyalty.
Over the past six weeks, several players have expressed anger at being left in the dark during negotiations; confusion about what the future landscape looks like; and now frustration that there have still been so few responses. Monahan returned to work Monday after a month-long absence due to an undisclosed health issue, and Xander Schauffele and Jordan Spieth suggested last week that Monahan will have to repair the trust he has broken with some of the players.
“I’m not alone in saying that,” Schauffele said.
Full field tee times from the 151st Open Championship
But Rahm appeared more forgiving when he spoke to reporters on Tuesday at Royal Liverpool. He said Monahan is a “really good man” who has treated his family well and that he has done a “fantastic job” at the helm of the Tour. While he acknowledged the deal between the Tour and the PIF was “unexpected,” Rahm said the two sides deserve time to work out the details before the Dec. 31 deadline.
“The turn they took without us knowing was very unexpected,” he said, “but I still think he’s done a good job. Right now, after it happened, I think it’s only fair to give them the right time to work things out.
“I still think they have the best interest of the players at heart. All we have right now is a framework agreement. It’s an agreement to have an agreement. We really don’t have anything right now to say or judge what they’ve done.”
So his faith in leadership, and Monahan in particular, hasn’t changed?
“No,” Rahm said. “Again, he still has plenty of time to work on this deal to basically prove that this was the right decision.”
Of the many details that still need to be ironed out, two of the most pressing seem to be how (if at all) to compensate those who remained loyal to the Tour and how to reintegrate the LIV defectors back into the Tour landscape.
A day after the shock announcement, Rory McIlroy described himself as a “sacrificial lamb” and suggested that players who shunned the Saudi millions should somehow be made whole to stick with the Tour in their fight against an existential threat.
“The simple answer is yes,” McIlroy said at the RBC Canadian Open. “The complex answer is how does that happen.”
Even less heralded players, such as Chesson Hadley, felt that week that they deserved some form of compensation.
“I want to be rewarded for my decision to stay loyal,” Hadley said.
Monahan promised to reward players in some way for helping support the direction of “this pro-competitive, legacy-driven juggernaut,” and that more details were forthcoming.
However, Rahm did not share that view. Yes, the reigning Masters champion could have dealt a crushing blow to the establishment by bolting for LIV – he was reportedly offered a staggering amount of guaranteed money – but chose to stay on Tour.
And that, he said, was an important distinction to make: It was his decision.
“I wasn’t forced into anything,” he said. “Do I think they absolutely should be and there should be compensation? No. I just stayed because I think it’s the best choice for myself and for the golf I want to play.”
“We all had the chance to go to LIV and take the money and we chose to stay on the PGA Tour for whatever reason we chose,” he added. “I’m already making a great living doing what I do. I’m extremely grateful and it all happened because of the platform the PGA Tour gave 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 future generations.”
But if the Tour makes a plan to reward the high-profile players like Rahm, he said with a laugh, “I won’t say no.”
One of the other important points agreed – apart from dropping the costly litigation between the warring sides – was that LIV players could be reinstated after the end of this season.
The question is how.
Rahm said he understands both sides — that some Tour loyalists want the LIV players to pay a high price to leave, while he also understands the appeal of having them return to make the Tour’s biggest events even bigger. Rahm believed some punishment was in order, but he still struggled with his own feelings about the severity of any punishment, or whether it should be handed out on a case-by-case basis, or if the players who left even have a desire to return.
“Right now it’s a bit of a wait,” he said. “Hopefully they can reach a partnership where they’re both happy with what the outcome is and everyone can move forward and be the best golf product we can offer out there. Whatever that looks like, I don’t know.”