LOS ANGELES — Masters champion Jon Rahm said some PGA Tour players feel “a bit of betrayal from management” in the wake of the announced alliance of the tour, the DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
“It gets to a point where you wanna have faith in management,” Rahm said during his U.S. Open news conference Tuesday. “I wanna have faith that this is the best case for us, but that’s clearly not the consensus.”
The No. 2-ranked player in the world said he was taking care of his children when he found out about the news of the deal and was as surprised as anyone about the development.
“It’s not easy as a player to wake up and see this bombshell,” Rahm said.
When asked if he felt as if the PGA Tour had taken player opinion into account as it embarked on a deal that could theoretically further change the nature of the game, Rahm explained his frustration.
“I think, to an extent, they value player opinion,” he said. “They’ve certainly heard us throughout the whole process on some of the issues.
“But we’re certainly in a spot in time where there’s a big question mark. Where we don’t have the answers we would like. It’s hard to say.”
As players arrived at this year’s U.S. Open, they have not shied away from expressing their surprise and their lack of knowledge when it comes to the latest development in golf’s evolution. The party line seems to be that they don’t have enough information about the proposed framework deal to comment on its merits, but they are commenting on the communication gap between the tour’s leadership and its members without singling out PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.
“We want to know the why,” Collin Morikawa said. “I think there’s so many different parties involved that there’s too many answers to really put it into one underlying umbrella of the why, because I think what you’ve seen from the players versus what you’ve seen from maybe our commissioner versus the board versus Yasir [Al-Rumayyan] versus LIV versus — there’s a lot of parties involved. Everyone has had a kind of different answer and different reaction to all this.”
Rahm co-signed that sentiment, adding that it’s tougher still that this is a discussion in the midst of a major he’s trying to win.
“I really know as much as you guys know, to be honest,” said reigning Open Championship winner Cam Smith, who is a LIV player. “I haven’t been told much at all. I’m just taking it as it goes along.”
LIV players on site have also expressed a certain level of surprise at the news of the alliance. Smith said he found out about it 10 minutes before the interview between Monahan and Al-Rumayyan aired on CNBC. Others, like Dustin Johnson, seem to have more concrete answers. The 2016 U.S. Open winner said in an interview with Golf Channel that he believes that not only will LIV remain under the new partnership but the schedule will not change this season or next.
“That’s the plan, I’ve talked to the guys,” Johnson said. “I just hope we can get all the best players in the world playing at the same time in golf tournaments. Obviously it’s a little split right now.”
Brooks Koepka, meanwhile, said Tuesday that he has taken a different approach, ignoring the uncertainty altogether. The 2023 PGA Championship winner, who found out about the news while at the Grove XXIII — Michael Jordan’s golf course — professes that he’s not thinking about what’s happening outside his major championship bubble. Instead, he’s thinking about how to win his sixth major.
“I wasn’t going to waste any time on news that happened last week,” Koepka said.
When asked whether he felt vindicated, Koepka shrugged. “It didn’t matter to me. Like I said, I’m trying to focus on this week. I think that’s why I’ve been really good at majors, honestly.”
Rahm, for his part, is trying to do the same. As he explained Tuesday, he has reached the point of not necessarily having a strong opinion on where the proposed deal takes the game. He just wants to get there.
“Too much has gone on,” Rahm said. “I think, like everybody, we just want some answers and basically to know what the future looks like, and that’s about it. I just want to know how it’s going to look like, and that’s about it.”