Jon Rahm'shas of the sport, but it's also being felt close to home. Rahm's Ryder Cup teammate and European brethren, Rory McIlroy, was once a firm critic of LIV but continues to soften his stance on the 54-hole team circuit as uneasiness grows in the professional landscape.
"It's hard to sit here and criticize Jon because of what a great player he is and the experiences I've had with him. All I would say is that I'll be disappointed to not play against him more regularly in the future," McIlroy said. "I am going to miss competing against him week-in, week-out. He is such a good player, he's got so much talent. He is so tenacious and a great teammate at the Ryder Cup. I have nothing but good things to say about Jon. I respect the hell out of him as a golfer."
McIlroy and Rahm have shared three Ryder Cup experiences together with victories in 2018 and this past fall in Rome, Italy, during which time Rahm was a member of the DP World Tour — a requirement for members of the European Ryder Cup team. This past year, fellow LIV Golf members and Ryder Cup stalwarts like Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood resigned their membership from the DP World Tour as fines piled up and were deemed ineligible to participate in the Ryder Cup.
Rahm insisted Thursday evening he hopes to keep his status on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, and thus his eligibility for the Ryder Cup. Despite now playing in different leagues, McIlroy agrees with the two-time major champion.
"Jon is going to be in Bethpage in 2025," said McIlroy. "So because of this decision, the European Tour are going to have to rewrite the rules for Ryder Cup eligibility. Absolutely, there is no question about that. I certainly want Jon Rahm on the next Ryder Cup team."
If McIlroy's plea turns into prophecy, the world's best may only gather five times a year, which is technically better than just the four major championships. However, it is still not enough for the future of the game as stars are growing increasingly separated with 15 of last 31 major championship now residing on LIV Golf.
"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," McIlroy said. "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," he continued. "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."