Rory McIlroy hits Jon Rahm with ‘cannibalising’ comment after LIV golf defection

Jon Rahm completes LIV Golf switch

Rory McIlroy fears a ‘divide’ in golf after Ryder Cup teammate Jon Rahm completed a staggering £400m move from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf. The Spaniard’s defection to the Saudi-backed breakaway league was finalised on Thursday, making the world No. 3 the highest-paid sportsperson on earth, earning almost three times as much as footballers Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

The reigning Masters champion will follow in the footsteps of Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson as major winners who have switched from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf for ultra-lucrative deals.

It leaves PGA poster boy McIlory in a difficult situation as he continues to stay loyal to the American-based operation. And the Northern Irishman has shared his concern at what he sees as a diluting of elite men’s golf as an overall product with the world’s best players competing in separate competitions.

Speaking to Sky Sports, McIlroy said: “My fear is that we continue down this path where we have competing tours and it divides the eyeballs that are on the game. Some people like LIV, the majority of people like the PGA Tour, but if LIV start to take a few players each and every year it’s really going to be divided and that’s no good for anyone.

“You’re basically cannibalising yourself as a sport, sort of the same as what boxing has done with all the different organisations and a few other sports have as well. To me, having all the best golfers under the one umbrella is the best way forward because I think that’s really what the public wants.

“The majors are already so big, but my fear is that if we keep going down this path then all the best players are only going to get together four times a year. That means golf is only going to be relevant four times a year and that’s good for no one in the game.

“We need to get everyone back together and try to forget about what has happened in the past. Let bygones be bygones and we all move forward together – I think that’s what’s going to be the best thing for the professional game.”

Rahm’s move to LIV Golf is significant for two reasons. He has become one of the biggest names in the sport behind Tiger Woods and McIlroy and was also a huge star of this year’s Ryder Cup in Rome – an event he would have been forbidden from competing in had he already been a LIV player in September.

But the timing of the move raises more questions than it answers. Back in June, the PGA Tour rocked golf by announcing that it had dropped legal battles with LIV Golf and reached a ‘framework agreement’ that would see the two warring operations effectively merge into one alongside the DP World Tour.

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But little further detail on what this agreement looks like has been made public and with a deadline to cement the agreement of December 31 fast approaching Rahm’s decision to switch allegiance to the Private Investment Fund-powered LIV Golf league is at the very least an alarming move so close to deadline date.

However, it would appear that becoming the world’s highest-earning athlete was a proposition that was too good for the Spaniard to turn down.

Appearing on Fox News to confirm the move, Rahm said: “It’s not an easy decision. There were a lot of things LIV had to offer that was really enticing.”

Speaking about the reported deal he added: “I can’t comment on any of that, nor do I want to. It is private and it is going to stay private. Listen, it was a great offer. The money is great, it is wonderful. I’m an ambitious person, not a greedy one.”

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