Jon Rahm, the number 3 in world golf, was won by Saudi millions, putting his participation in the Paris Olympics and the 2025 Ryder Cup in New York at risk. Despite the damage to his sporting career, Rahm was unable to resist the pharaonic offer of the Arab Super League, which exceeds 550 million dollars and represents one of the most expensive operations in the history of sport.
The Basque golfer, two-time Major champion, confessed that money was one of the determining factors in his decision and signed a contract with LIV Golf, financed by the Public investment fund (Pif), whose ranking is not yet officially recognized in the world of golf.
His choice will cut him off from the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.
Jon Rahm, dollars
Despite having the opportunity to become a golf icon and participate in the major circuits, Rahm chose to chase a lucrative contract with LIV Golf.
Although he admitted the centrality of money, he did not divulge the size of his salary. However, it can be assumed that the figures are comparable or higher than those of Kylian Mbappe (630 million gross for three years) and Messi (550 million from 2017 to 2021 with Barcelona), but could only be lower than those of Cristiano's contract Ronaldo with Al-Nasrr, which guarantees him an annual salary of 217 million dollars including salary, bonuses, benefits and image rights.
The sum collected by Rahm, which amounts to $300 million just at the time of signing the contract in New York, does not include any sponsorship income or revenues from each tournament won. Considering an average of $4 million for each success in LIV Golf and an $18 million prize for first place in the individual rankings at the end of the year, Rahm could well become the highest paid sportsman in the world.
Saudi Arabia has also become a sought-after destination for golfers seeking paradise on earth. Even highly paid NBA stars, such as Stephen Curry (with 51.9 million dollars per season) and LeBron James (with 47.6 million), and Formula 1 champions, such as Max Verstappen (with 70 million) and Lewis Hamilton (with 55 million), they still have to make an effort to reach the top green players.
According to Forbes, in 2023, the 50 highest paid athletes will include 12 protagonists from the golf world, which is four times more than in 2022. The impact of petrodollars has not only provoked a heated debate among industry operators, but has also increased the total earnings of golfers, which in the last year reached the sum of 1.1 billion dollars.
The Rahm case could lead to important changes in the balance of the golf world, which is already in a precarious condition. By the end of the year, the PGA Tour and DP World Tour will try to reach an agreement with LIV Golf to create a global circuit much requested by the public.
Among the supporters of this initiative is also Tiger Woods, who in the past rejected a billion-dollar offer from the United Arab Emirates. Likewise, Rory McIlroy, world number 2 in golf, has always contested the creation of this new circuit.
According to the Northern Irishman, the risk is that golf continues to divide rather than unite. McIlroy also expressed his preference for the 2025 Ryder Cup in New York, in which he hopes to have Rahm in the European team.
Currently, LIV Golf players can only participate in the 4 major traditional tournaments (Masters, US Open, PGA Championship and The Open), which are the only events that allow you to accumulate points for the world ranking.
However, the case of Rahm, whose contract exceeds the total sum of prizes allocated by the PGA Tour for its 2023 tournaments (460 million dollars), could revolutionize the dynamics of the sector. Rahm, with maturity and thoughtful choice, announced that he respects his duty to his family, putting his desire to participate in the Ryder Cup on the back burner and shifting focus to the best opportunities for his loved ones.
In the past, the Spaniard had expressed his strong criticism of the LIV Golf format, claiming that his true desire was to play with the best in the world. However, the change of heart led to the golf star landing in the LIV, a million-dollar Arab league that has attracted attention from prominent figures such as Donald Trump.
This change of direction will entail a huge challenge: changing the almost century-old rules of the prestigious Ryder Cup. Without a doubt, Rahm has always been a determined player, but this time his goal has changed, and his thinking has become broader and more sophisticated .