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LIV Golf

Jon Rahm says he got 'emotional' missing his favorite West Coast events

February 06, 2024
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Manuel Velasquez

Every year, when the calendar flips to January, the PGA Tour rolls into what many fans feel is its most captivating stretch: the West Coast Swing. That’s because viewers on the East Coast see it as a (virtual) escape from the cold of winter while dreaming of (slightly) warmer temperatures, like those in the California desert for The American Express. Or maybe it’s just the thrill of watching the world’s best golfers take on major-championship venues like Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open, Pebble Beach for the former Crosby Clambake and Riviera C.C. for the upcoming Genesis Invitational. Then there’s the raucousness of the party hole at TPC Scottsdale during this week’s WM Phoenix Open.

When it’s over and the tour moves on to Mexico and Florida, West Coast Swing withdrawals hit hard. Even for players.

Especially for Jon Rahm, who made a habit of winning in Southern California when he was a member of the PGA Tour. Had he not joined LIV Golf in a mega-million-dollar deal just ahead of the 2024 season, the Spaniard would have been defending at The Sentry on Maui (Hawaii swing but you see our point), the Amex and Genesis, all titles won on his way to victory at the 2023 Masters.

Instead, he was watching these events on TV—even driving past one of them, which was a genuine bummer. “It was a lot harder to be at home and not competing and knowing that those events were going on,” Rahm said during a Tuesday press conference ahead of this weelk’s LIV Golf stop at Las Vegas Country Club.

The 29-year-old’s affinity for the West Coast Swing comes from the fact he played college golf at Arizona State, captured his first PGA Tour title (2017 Farmers) and first major (2021 U.S. Open) at Torrey Pines, proposed to wife Kelley in the La Jolla area of San Diego and won the American Express twice (2018, 2023).

“I've explained so many times how important Torrey is for me,” Rahm said. “Driving by [TPC Scottsdale, near where Rahm lives] as often as I had to and knowing that I wasn't going to play there, it's definitely emotional. That's one of the things that I'm going to miss.

“I'm hoping in the near future I can be back playing some of those events. I would certainly love to go back and play some of them.”

That won’t be happening in the short term—the PGA Tour suspended Rahm for his jump to the rival circuit. Long term, however, there is reason for optimism. LIV Golf’s financier, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, continues its negotiations with the PGA Tour that could see them becoming investors in the new for-profit PGA Tour Enterprises. If a deal can be had soon, LIV players aspire that some allowances to return and play PGA Tour event can be made.

“I have hope [of playing in the PGA Tour again],” Rahm said. “That's all I can say on my part. … If there's ever a way back and a way where we can play, even if it's as an invite, I will take it. Like I said, there's certain events that are special to me that I would still love to support.”

It's also unclear what, if any, events Rahm may be able to play on the DP World Tour. Neither Rahm nor his fellow LIV offseason recruit Tyrrell Hatton have resigned their memberships in Europe. Hatton joined LIV in time for its season opener at Mayakoba last week, where he and Rahm’s squad, Legion XIII, won the team title (and its $3 million first place prize).

The DP World Tour has fined and suspended its members for teeing up in LIV events, and it’s unclear if that has happened to Rahm and Hatton. Some LIV players have still competed on the Old World Circuit, including at the Alfred Dunhill Links in Scotland and several co-sanctioned events in Australia and South Africa, playing via sponsor’s exemptions. In fact, five of the first six DP World Tour events in its 2023-24 season were won by LIV golfers.

“With DP World Tour, though, we've seen examples of people playing events,” Rahm said. “That's definitely a possibility. I would love to, if allowed and if I can, go play the Spanish Open [Sept. 26-29], if it doesn't conflict with LIV's schedule.

Rahm would also like to compete still in the DP World Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. “And If I qualify [by earning enough DP World Tour points accumulated in the four majors], I'd still love to go play in DP World Tour Championship in Dubai,” Rahm said. “There's certainly events I would like to play.”