NAPLES, Fla. — Justin Rose appears concerned for the future of his current employer.
“That’s a big signing,” Rose said Thursday about multiple reports Jon Rahm is leaving the PGA Tour to sign with LIV Golf. LIV made it official later in the day, confirming Rahm’s departure for the Saudi-backed, Public Investment Fund-funded golf league.
“He’s a big catch and a big loss. He weakens one side and strengthens the other. And I don’t know who else goes with Jon,” said Rose. “If it’s just Jon, that’s bad enough. What does that mean now to the trickle? If it’s Jon plus a trickle, that’s not good.”
Rose was at Tiburon Golf Club Thursday for the pro-am ahead of the 2023 Grant Thornton Invitational, a mixed-team event featuring top golfers from the PGA Tour and the LPGA. Rose, who lives in England, just experienced one of his greatest golf moments with Rahm, a Spaniard, as they teamed up to lead the European to victory at the Ryder Cup in Rome.
Now, Rose is not sure what Rahm – ranked No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking and No. 5 in the Golfwee/Sagarin Rankings – leaving the Tour means when it comes to a deal between the Tour and Saudi’s PIF, which finances LIV Golf.
Rose was asked if this could jeopardize that framework agreement that was announced six months ago: “100 percent,” he said.
“The fact that it’s maybe dragged its heels here a little bit maybe emboldened LIV to continue that recruiting process.”
Will a deal get made?
The origninal deadline for hammering out that deal was December 31. That is not expected to be met.
“The players didn’t necessarily want to accept the deal and that’s been a big part of the problem and now we’re going to have to live with those consequences. We’re still talking with the PIF about investing but are we willing to give them enough to comfort them in terms of not making LIV their biggest priority?
“The next month is going to be really interesting to see how it plays out. And this is going to be a big part of the jigsaw puzzle, seeing Jon go.”
Rickie Fowler, who in the past has shot down any rumors of his possible defection to LIV, also wonders when, and if, a deal is ever made.
“The timeline with the deal deadline being the end of the year, it’s hard to think that will go through,” Fowler said Thursday. “Division isn’t a good thing. I’m hopeful things will continue to work in the right direction for the good of the game. We’ll find out.”
Rose was looking for a sign from Rahm that the talk in recent weeks was baseless. But he was not encouraged with Rahm kind of going off the grid.
Rahm had opportunities to shoot down reports he’s joining LIV for more than $300 million and an ownership stake, but the silence, Rose said, has been “deafening.”
“A lot has had to happen for Jon to get to that point because I know he’s definitely one of the players that doesn’t necessarily only play golf for money,” Rose said. “But there’s a certain amount of money that becomes money that’s hard to ignore.
“I don’t think he’s a guy that sacrifices his level of play just for money. He obviously thinks there’s a future there and he is one of the lucky guys that is eligible for all the major championships so that’s probably a big factor and all his decision making.”
Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion, is more interested in being eligible for golf’s biggest events including the majors and Ryder Cup. He’s also considered a future European Ryder Cup captain.
Besides, between the PGA and DP World tours, Rose has won more than $92 million in prize money.
But when it comes to Rahm, an 11-time winner on the PGA Tour who has made more then $51 million, Rose wonders what he is thinking when it comes to his legacy.
“I think Jon is a legacy focused player,” Rose said. “He really represents Spain in who he’s following there as far as Seve (Ballesteros) and Jose Maria (Olazabal). He knows where he sits in that framework of Spanish golf and world golf and European golf.
“I don’t think he was careless about this decision.”