• Loading stock data...
Saturday, June 22, 2024

LIV Golf’s Signing of Jon Rahm Further Complicates Partnership Negotiations

  • Rahm, the third-ranked golfer in the world, is the first big name LIV signed since the framework for a merger was announced in June.
  • Representatives close to the PGA Tour cautioned LIV Golf before Rahm was signed, source tells FOS.
Jon Rahm

Representatives close to the PGA Tour recently cautioned that LIV Golf’s reported signing of reigning Masters champ Jon Rahm would complicate efforts toward ending the schism in pro golf, a source with knowledge of the situation told Front Office Sports. 

Undeterred, LIV reportedly signed Rahm early Thursday morning and continues to target two more PGA Tour stars, the source said. Rham’s departure became official Thursday night.

“Our focus remains on the PGA Tour and unifying the game for our fans and players,” the PGA Tour said in a statement to FOS. “We can’t speak for decisions that any individual players might make but based on the momentum of the past season and strength of the PGA Tour, along with the accelerated interest from and negotiations with a number of outside investors, we are in position to make our players equity owners and further allow the TOUR to invest in our members, invest in our fans and continue to lead men’s professional golf forward.”

The Department of Justice removed the anti-poaching provision from the original framework announced in June a month later.

LIV’s resumption of luring PGA Tour players with huge contracts appears to be another indicator that the finalization of the framework agreement may not happen before the Dec. 31 deadline has mounted in recent weeks, the source said. 

“Our deadline is coming up here soon, so there’s a lot of moving parts,” Tiger Woods, one of the members of the PGA Tour’s Policy Board, said last week.. “A lot of different things are happening very quickly. … We don’t have a whole lot of time.”

FOS has previously reported the pace of negotiations has frustrated LIV and its main financial backer, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. In LIV’s view, the Rahm signing is fair game since there are no restrictions to signing PGA Tour players, and it shouldn’t be seen as LIV “sabotaging” the framework negotiations, the source said.  

In the original framework agreement, the anti-solicitation provision stated that “PIF, PGA Tour and DP World Tour each agrees that it will not … enter into any contract, agreement or understanding with, solicit, or recruit any players” who were currently playing on competing tours. 

The DOJ — which has investigated the PGA Tour for anti-competitive practices for over a year — had discussions with those negotiating the framework to remove that provision. 

The framework negotiations can be extended past the deadline by mutual agreement. 

PIF committed hundreds of millions to launching LIV in 2022, much of that money aimed at PGA Tour stars to sign with the upstart league. Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, and Dustin Johnson played in the LIV’s first season, and the LIV added Cameron Smith later in 2022. 

But LIV’s efforts were put on hold after the framework agreement, even in the weeks immediately after the non-poaching provision was removed. In recent weeks, rumors swirled that LIV was targeting Rahm as the PGA Tour had been talking to other investors beyond PIF. 

PIF promised at least $1 billion toward the unification of the PGA Tour, LIV, and DP World Tour assets into a single commercial entity as part of the framework agreement. 

PGA and LIV were unlikely to come together for the 2024 season, and another source told FOS that the signing of Rahm is seen by some within the PGA Tour as a negotiating tactic.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Finals Draw Underwhelming Viewership, but NBA Juggernaut Rolls On

The impact will be negligible on the NBA’s $76 billion media-rights talks.

The House v. NCAA Settlement Has Its First Formal Objection

The school argues the terms of the settlement adversely impact it financially.

NCAA Backs Dartmouth Against Unionizing Men’s Basketball Players

The NCAA’s quest to save its business model continues.

Aces Sell Out Regular-Season Home Games in WNBA First

The Aces’ slow start continues to have no impact on the box office. 
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

How Women’s Sports Media is Charting Its Own Path


Featured Today

Jan 3, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; General view of the NFL shield logo signage before the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.

Odds Stacked Against NFL in Multibillion-Dollar Sunday Ticket Trial

Why the class action trial does not look promising for the league.
Jan 7, 2024; San Francisco, California, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter (11) takes a three-point shot against the Golden State Warriors during the second half at Chase Center.
June 9, 2024

‘Bound to Happen’: The Age of the Sports Betting Scandal Has Arrived

A banishment, betting scheme, and guilty plea all in one scandal-filled span.
June 8, 2024

‘Experimental in Nature’: The Rapid, Confounding Rise of Streaming Bundles

Here’s why confusion continues to outweigh solutions in the streaming package boom.
June 2, 2024

The Nostalgia Market: Michael Jordan’s Memorabilia Remains Coveted, With Caveats

Due to scarcity, and sometimes, items’ undisclosed whereabouts, this world has limitations.

The ‘Big’ in Big 12 Could Soon Be Replaced With a Sponsor’s Name

Allstate is said to be in discussions about a deal with the Big 12.
June 12, 2024

Saudi Arabia’s Next Big Sports Target: Boxing, With Joint Venture Worth $5B

The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is focusing on boxing as its next large-scale sports target.
June 13, 2024

Everything You Need to Know About the Schism Rocking Competitive Eating

The business story about hot dogs that you never knew you needed.

How HOKA is Reimagining the NIL Relationship

HOKA, the renowned athletic footwear and apparel brand, is betting on a new reality with NIL.
June 11, 2024

Breakthrough? Tiger Says PGA Tour and LIV Golf Are Eyeing ‘End Game’

Woods called a recent meeting ‘productive.’
June 10, 2024

Salt Lake City’s $4B Olympics Price Tag Could Be a Bargain: Here’s Why

Utah is the preferred bidder for the 2034 Games.
June 7, 2024

New Era’s Acquisition of ’47 Set to Reshape Sports Apparel Market

New Era is set to acquire ’47 in a deal creating a combined operation with $2 billion in annual revenue.
June 5, 2024

One Year After ‘Merger,’ the PGA Tour and LIV Golf Still Remain Far Apart

Leaders of the tours struck an agreement exactly one year ago.