Column: Rahm goes back on his word. But circumstances changed #Column #Rahm #word #circumstances #changed

Words still matter, and for Jon Rahm, there is no shortage of them when contemplating why he abandoned terms like “fealty” and “history” to chase money he once said he didn’t need.

Just be sure to consider all his words.

Among the most recited came from Riviera in February 2022 when LIV Golf was trying to get off the ground. Rahm, then No. 1 in the world, was not scheduled to speak that day but wanted to be heard. “I am officially declaring my fealty to the PGA Tour,” he said.

It was an interesting choice of words for the Spaniard. Fealty in medieval Europe was an oath of fidelity in which the vassal pledged not to harm his lord or damage to his property. Signing with LIV didn’t exactly help Commissioner Jay Monahan or the PGA Tour landscape.

But there was another moment later in 2022 that was telling, coming at a critical juncture for the PGA Tour as it tried to stand its ground against the Saudi riches of LIV.

Rahm was among 23 players at the infamous “Delaware meeting” that led to the first iteration of $20 million purses and the best players competing more often against each other. It required a 20-tournament commitment, which sounded like a lot for star players with European tour cards. Rahm said he wouldn’t be surprised if that changed.

Did he know more than he was letting on?

“Me? No,” Rahm replied. “You’re asking the wrong guy. If you want to know about that stuff, you know who of the two players you have to ask.”

There was no need to mention Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy by name. Everyone knew they were calling the shots.

Rahm was in the “notable others” category.

Not anymore. By signing a deal that various reports put in the $500 million range, he becomes at LIV what he never really was on the PGA Tour — the face of a league. Perhaps that’s where Rahm feels he can leave his legacy, not by winning the Memorial and The Players Championship and the FedEx Cup.

During an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” Rahm mentioned Seve Ballesteros making golf more popular in Spain and using his influence around the world. That’s what he wants to emulate. “I think creating new possibilities and new avenues is important,” Rahm said.

What influence did he wield on the PGA Tour?

Think back to Europe’s closing news conference at Marco Simone, where Rahm was unbeaten in his four matches. Rahm was barely a face in the crowd until someone asked him to weigh in on why Europe unites at these matches.

“I didn’t know Rahmbo was there,” Shane Lowry said.

“Only the best player in the world,” McIlroy quietly added.

The respect has always been there. McIlroy had said a month before Rahm signed with LIV that he would be “very, very surprised” if Rahm left. And when it happened, McIlroy was far more gracious and understanding than he was with the first batch of defectors, whom he referred to as “duplicitous” and “taking the easy way out.”

He even said Europe would need to change the Ryder Cup rules to make sure Rahm was at Bethpage Black in 2025. If Rahm wasn’t getting the respect he thought he deserved, it wasn’t coming from McIlroy.

It was no less awkward to see Rahm trade in the elegance of a Masters green jacket for that black letterman’s jacket with “LIV GOLF” written across the front, a loutish look that wasn’t helped by Greg Norman clasping his shoulders.

“I’ve been very happy,” Rahm said. “But there is a lot of things that LIV Golf has to offer that were very enticing.”

He dropped the tired phrases of growing the game and how much he loves team golf, and eventually mentioned the money and how he had a duty to provide for his family “the most amount of resources possible.” Go ahead and tick that box.

Now he will see how well he can carry the LIV flag at its 14 tournaments next year on The CW network or a YouTube channel.

Rahm is 29, entering the prime of his career with a consistency that puts him on a trajectory to surpass what McIlroy has done. After seven full years as a pro, McIlroy had 14 worldwide wins and four majors. Rahm has 21 wins and two majors.

Rahm was a draw, but never the main event. Not compared with McIlroy (no one compares with Woods in that department). Maybe not even with Jordan Spieth, who had three majors before turning 24 and now entertains by seeing if he can live up to that again.

Also worth considering is what else Rahm said during his use of “fealty.”

“I have a lot of belief in Jay Monahan and the product that they’re going to give us in the future,” he said at Riviera. “There has been a lot of talk and speculation about the Saudi league. It’s just not something I believe is the best for me and my future in golf, and I think the best legacy I can accomplish will be with the PGA Tour.”

His belief in the commissioner in February 2022 is different than his belief in Monahan after the secret deal with the Saudis that dropped like a thunderbolt on June 6. Rahm has used words like betrayal and trust. And with the proposed commercial partnership dragging along, he might have had reason to doubt which tour is best for him and his future in golf.

Words matter even as circumstances change.

The value of Rahm ultimately will be measured by more than words.


AP golf:

#Column #Rahm #word #circumstances #changed

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