World No.1 Jon Rahm will likely have a big impact on the upcoming limited-field, no-cut events coming to the PGA Tour.
The Designated Event Model will ensure some of next year’s tournaments feature between 70 and 80 players and without the traditional 36-hole cut. The changes come in the middle of a battle for supremacy at the top of the game thanks to the emergence of LIV Golf, and Rahm has admitted that without the rival circuit, the changes wouldn’t have happened.
The Spaniard, who is preparing for this week’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, was asked the reason the PGA Tour was implementing the changes and his response was unequivocal. He said: “Oh, it’s LIV Golf. I mean, without a doubt. Without LIV Golf, this wouldn’t have happened. So to an extent, like I’ve said before, we should be thankful this threat has made the PGA Tour want to change things.”
Rahm’s comments bear similarities with ones he made last November before the Hero World Challenge. Back then, on the subject of increased purses in the PGA Tour’s designated events, he said: “I mean, I think on this side of things we should be thankful that LIV happened. I don’t know if those changes would have happened if LIV wasn’t in the picture. So to an extent, yeah, we should be thankful.”
Despite Rahm welcoming the latest move, he suggested the PGA Tour ought to have made changes regardless of the impact of LIV Golf. He said: “I wish it didn’t come to the PGA Tour being, you know, under fire from somebody else to make those changes and make things better for the players, but I guess it is what we needed. So, yeah, it is because of LIV Golf, otherwise we wouldn’t have seen any of this.”
There are fears among some players that the door could close on the possibility of all but the top players qualifying for the events, but Rahm said he sees their introduction as a positive step for the Tour. He said: “I can see the logic in what they are disapproving of, but I think in the long run once you take a step back and you realize it truly is the best for everybody, it’s the best product for the PGA Tour, I think they will understand.”
Rahm’s thoughts on the influence of LIV Golf echo Rory McIlroy’s. In the build-up to this week’s tournament, the World No.3 said: “LIV coming along, it’s definitely had a massive impact on the game, but I think everyone who’s a professional golfer is going to benefit from it going forward.”
Rahm and McIlroy, along with World No.2 Scottie Scheffler, have been grouped together for the opening two rounds of this year’s tournament, which has a record purse of $25m.