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This time last year, the PGA Tour season belonged to Jon Rahm. The Spaniard ran through the West Coast swing with wins at The Sentry, the American Express and the Genesis Invitational before capping off his torrid start to the year with a green jacket at the 2023 Masters.

However, that was last year, and this year Rahm is no longer on the PGA Tour after he transitioned to LIV Golf this offseason. With his move, the world No. 3 has been unable to defend his titles. While some have suggested a sizable contract from LIV Golf would be enough to squash any fear of missing out, Rahm says otherwise.

"I'm not going to lie: For everybody who said this would be easy, some things have been, but not being able to defend some titles that mean a lot to me hasn't [been easy]," Rahm said. "I love Palm Springs == I've been able to win twice there. Riviera is about as charismatic of a golf course as we have. It's definitely a week that is fantastic for a lot of us, and it's a fan and player favorite. Not being there was difficult.

"I still watched the broadcast. I still watch golf because I love watching it, but it's hard," he continued. "It was hard not to be at the Phoenix Open at the end of February, and it was hard not to be at Hawaii because it's another tournament that my family enjoys, and I've done fantastic on."

Rahm will enter this year's Masters as the defending champion and unveiled his Champions Dinner menu Tuesday paying homage to his home country of Spain. His dinner will be attended by the likes of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo -- the only three men to successfully defend their green jackets at Augusta National.

Also in attendance will be the man to whom this year's PGA Tour season currently belongs: Scottie Scheffler. Fresh off victories at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship, the 2022 Masters champion is the clear favorite to slip on his second green jacket in three weeks' time.

"I'm fully aware of where Scottie is. I've seen it the last two years. I'm fully aware where he is," Rahm said. "He's a great competitor, and he is somebody that when you're under the gun and you've got to get it done, he's been able to get it done. He has a great partnership with Ted Scott, and they clearly work great together. I feel like I don't need to be playing next to him to know what's going on. Like I said, anytime you're doing the history he's been able to do, it's quite impressive.

"I think that's what's making this Masters and many other majors going to be so much fun, not only for me and for players but for spectators, is for all of us to be able to play together again and showcase what we're capable of," Rahm continued. "I feel like my game is in really good position. I have not played my best yet. But I can see it every tournament getting a little bit better and getting to a point where I like where I'm at coming up to the Masters."

Rahm and Scheffler have not been on the same golf course in competition since the 2023 Ryder Cup, where the two tied their Sunday singles match. It was the second straight Ryder Cup that Rahm and Scheffler had met on the final day of competition.

Since then, Rahm has played well on LIV Golf. In four starts, he has four top 10s with close calls at Mayakoba and Las Vegas under his belt. He'll play the week before the Masters at Trump National Doral -- a former PGA Tour venue where Masters champions like Woods, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott and Patrick Reed have all won. 

"Last year, I had eight starts before the Masters," Rahm said. "This year is going to be five. Last year, I didn't play the week before the Masters. This year, I am. But I've done it in the past and done well. It's hard to say what's better or not. It's a little different. ... I'm hoping I can go to the Masters and do the same thing, give myself a chance on Sunday."