HOYLAKE, England (AP) — Jon Rahm will take the PGA Tour money for staying loyal if they give it to him. He doesn’t really think he deserves it, though.
Rahm said on Tuesday ahead of the British Open that the players who stuck with the tour don’t have to be compensated financially for not joining LIV Golf, saying they were not forced to stay.
Rahm won the first major of the year at the Masters and is looking to capture the last one as well to become the first Spaniard to win the Open since Seve Ballesteros more than three decades ago.
The possibility of compensation by the tour for those who stayed loyal and declined the huge amounts of money offered by LIV Golf gained traction after the recent announcement of the proposal of a partnership between the PGA Tour and the Saudis who created the breakaway competition.
“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,” Rahm said at a news conference at Royal Liverpool. “It was my choice to stay. 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.”
Rahm has been one of the most vocal defenders of the tour since the battle with LIV Golf started, and continued to defend it after the surprise announcement of the deal with the Saudis.
“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,” he said. “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. 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.”
Rory McIlroy, the strongest voice for the tour in the dispute with the Saudis, said last month that the loyal players probably deserved to be compensated, though he acknowledged that it would be difficult to make that happen.
Rahm said it remained a “tricky” situation and a “game of waiting,” but felt that punishment for the defectors should be considered.
“I do believe that some punishment should be in order,” Rahm said. “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.”
Rahm, the world No. 3 who leads the tour with four wins this season, came to Royal Liverpool off a break after missing the cut at the Travelers Championship nearly a month ago. He acknowledged he hasn’t played as consistent as he might have wanted recently, but the break was already planned in advance.
“When we did the schedule early in the year we did purposefully add this three-week break,” he said. “Kind of needed to have a little bit of time to rest. And because of the schedule we had this year I haven’t been able to have as much as I would have liked. It was nice to be at home and be Dad for a change without having to think of golf for a few weeks.”
Rahm won his second career major at the Masters, then finished tied for 50th at the PGA Championship and tied for 10th at the U.S. Open. Victory at Hoylake would put him alongside Ballesteros as the only Spaniards to win the Open. Ballesteros won in 1979, 1984 and 1988.
“To be the first one to win an Open since Seve for Spain would be quite special,” Rahm said. “It’s amazing to me that some of the great golfers we’ve had haven’t been able to do it, and they’ve been close. It would be a true honor to get there, to get to three majors, to be the second on the Spanish list.”