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LIV Golf star laments missing favorite PGA Tour events

Jon Rahm should be feeling on top of the world as he prepares to play his first LIV Golf event on U.S. soil.

The world’s third-ranked player is the unquestioned star of the breakaway circuit. He’s also been paid handsomely to make the leap and end his association with the PGA Tour.

But Rahm admitted as he arrived at Las Vegas Country Club for this week’s tournament that it’s been a difficult few weeks. He missed the chance to defend his victories in two PGA Tour events (the Sentry Tournament of Champions and The American Express), he couldn’t play at his favorite venue in the world at Torrey Pines and he is missing his hometown tournament this week at the Phoenix Open.

“It was a lot harder to be at home not competing and know those events were going on, Palm Springs and Torrey,” Rahm said. “Those weeks were hard.”

Torrey Pines was the location of his first PGA Tour win in 2017 and his first major championship victory at the 2020 U.S. Open. It just happened to be the location where he proposed to his wife, Kelly, as well.

“I’ve explained so many times how important Torrey is for me,” Rahm said.

The PGA Tour is also at TPC Scottsdale a few miles from Rahm’s home as he plays this week in Las Vegas.

“Driving by Phoenix as often as I had to and knowing that I wasn’t going to play there, it’s definitely emotional,” Rahm said. “That’s one of the things I’m going to miss.”

But the reigning Masters champion said his focus is on LIV Golf. He’s preparing for this week and the 14-event schedule ahead for 2024.

“I’m not typically a person that’s going to regret any decisions,” Rahm said of joining LIV Golf for a figure reportedly in excess of $300 million. “I made as educated a decision as I could with the full support of the people around me and (I’m) confident that it was the right thing for me, so I’m not going to regret it.”

Tyrrell Hatton, who joined LIV Golf and Rahm’s Legion XIII team last week, is in a similar position. A former champion at Bay Hill, Hatton knows it’s a tournament he won’t be playing in March. He’s come to peace with his decision.

“That was part of what you knew that you were signing up for joining LIV,” Hatton said. “Golf is just in a bit of a weird spot right now, but I don’t regret my decision. You just move forward.”

Rahm, for his part, isn’t sure those tournaments are in his past.

“I’m hoping that in the near future I can be back playing some of those events,” Rahm said, hinting a merger between golf’s warring parties could result in bans being lifted. “I would certainly love to go back and play some of them.”

Rahm’s decision to sign with LIV Golf in December, along with recent additions Hatton and Adrian Meronk, have led many insiders to speculate a deal between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf is not imminent. If ongoing negotiations were close to a deal, many believe LIV Golf would not still be poaching top players from the competition.

Rahm, however, isn’t ready to believe the door is permanently closed.

“We’ll see. If there’s ever a way back and a way where we can play, even if it’s as an invite, I will take it,” Rahm said. “There’s certain events that are special to me that I would still love to support.”

Asked why he believes there’s a chance, Rahm had a simple answer.

“I have hope,” Rahm said. “That’s all I can say on my part.”

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. Reach him at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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