Rahm, Sergio García and the dilemma of LIV Golf stars who cannot compete in America | Sports

“Another one!” the commentators shouted with joy during the streaming of the tournament, happy because the To show I followed up on a point. This is what Joaquín Niemann and Sergio García agreed after equalizing on the third sudden death hole of the first tournament of the LIV golf course, between smiles and good words, because there is a reason why they have been friends for a long time , since the Spaniard helped the Chilean with advice and training tricks during his first years as a professional to combat his shyness. The fans who filled the Camaleón Golf Club in Mayakoba (Mexican Riviera Maya) also erupted in joy, even as the last rays of the sun ineffably gave way to the darkness of night. So, on the fourth attempt, with the players running and carrying small cart Not to waste time, they reached the last Green. The giant screen with the rankings served as a projector to barely illuminate the pitch. The Spaniard missed his putt for par, complicated because he has already made a mistake with the iron, punished by the exit towards the rough; and Niemann pierced his sentence with a bird, to achieve his first victory in LIV and be crowned the first South American to achieve this. Showered by his companions with sparkling champagne, he frequented the buses after the show, punctuated by the fight of Rahm, third in the end. “I want to win majors“But I have to reach them first!”, reflected the Chilean as a cry for help.

It turns out that the much-vaunted agreement in June between the American circuit (PGA Tour) and LIV Golf -financed by public investment from Saudi Arabia- to create a single entity and sign peace, so that the traditional and the disruptive meet in the same ecosystem, did not occur on December 31, as stipulated. “We are working to extend negotiations into 2024,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan warned his players at the time and through a note. But for now, little, if anything, is known beyond the restrictions already gathered. So when Jon Rahm announced his transfer to LIV last December following an expensive offer of around 500 million, he quickly received a letter informing him that he was suspended and therefore ineligible for participate in North American circuit tournaments. The same thing does not happen with the majors, since the rules state that by having won the Augusta Masters 2023 you can participate in the tournament for life, in the same way that you can play until 2031 at the US Open by winning it two years ago, in plus being entered in the British Open and the PGA Championship for four more courses. The same is not true, for example, of Niemann or of the many players who were not crowned in a major and who are no longer. Top 100 of the PGA Tour, something logical because they do not add points since they are banned from the circuit. Wings clipped for several of the great talents who are arriving (like Meronk, Niemann, Mito Pereira or the Spaniard David Puig), who are there (like Dechambeau, Lahiri, Hatton…) or who have the most beautiful laurels like Sergio García, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith, Phil Mickelson… Champions who show that the LIV is already on par with the PGA Tour, since players on the Saudi roster have won 15 of the last 31 majors, or 50%.

Another problem is the Ryder, where America turned a blind eye during the last edition organized in Rome but celebrated by Europe, since it let Koepka participate. A break which on this side of the Atlantic was understood as sacrilege because Henrik Stenson was stripped of his captaincy when he left for LIV, while his successor Luke Donald was unable to recall Sergio García – he has 28.5 points in the 10 editions in which he participated. , more than any other golfer – much to his regret. “I was sorry, but I celebrated every point at the European Championships and gave Jon some advice on how to be a bit more of a team leader when he asked for my opinion . And I was happy to help in any way I could from behind,” resolved Sergio, who, at 44, once again showed Mayakoba that he has more than enough golf to be among the elite . Decision that now the always influential Rory McIlroy, aware of Rahm’s departure, asks that it be revised for the edition of New York 2025. Sergio, in any case, will only be at Augusta of the big ones in his own right – he won the green jacket in 2017 -, already far in the world rankings. A disadvantage also for participating in the Games which even puts Rahm in danger, since the first 60 are in the top 60 and the cut will be made in June.

The exodus to LIV took color and shape, notably when Koepka and Cameron Smith, as well as Dustin Johnson, joined them in mid-2022. With Rahm, in addition to Hutton, the jump is exponential because the PGA is bleeding, now with Scheffler, McIlroy, Thomas, Spieth, Finau and Day as great values, in addition to a Tiger Woods reduced by injuries which at the time rejected an offer of 1 billion to take the plunge enemy. And money is not a problem for the Saudi investment fund which, after Mayakoba, awarded almost four million to Niemann, to Sergio a little more than two and to Rahm, who finished third tied with the South African Dean Burmester two shots behind the leaders, with 1.5 (who surpassed both thanks to the victory of their team)…

The LIV will now travel to the neon city, Las Vegas, from February 8-10, the second of 14 stops on the tour. Because LIV is a show. Perhaps the best golf on the planet, even if it goes against tradition (there are three rounds instead of four and there is no cut, it is played individually but also as a team , the music is still playing in the background…). “LIV gives us the opportunity to do what we love, to earn a good or very good living and to be able to extend our career. That Rahm comes, even Hatton, means that money is important, yes, but that the product is good and things are done well,” reflected Sergio García. But they must enter the rankings, have the same access to the big ones as the others, participate in the Ryder or aspire to the Games. They are incomplete stars.

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