After weeks of rampant speculation, Jon Rahm's mega-money move to LIV Golf has finally been agreed. The Spaniard is believed to have signed the biggest deal since the Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway league launched in 2022, striking a huge blow to the PGA Tour.

The finer details of Rahm's five-year contract with LIV, which are expected to see him become a team captain from the outset of the 2024 season, have not been confirmed. However, it has been widely reported the package that has seen him turn his back on the golf establishment is worth in the region of £450million.

Rahm is ranked No. 3 in the Official World Golf Rankings after a memorable year for the 29-year-old. He won his second major championship when he won The Masters in April, and he played a huge role in Europe's Ryder Cup triumph in Rome two months ago, with his halved Sunday singles match with Scottie Scheffler one of the greatest in the history of the competition.

The 2021 U.S. Open champion repeatedly declared his loyalty to the PGA Tour since LIV started snapping up top players including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau two years ago, with Rahm laughing off suggestions he would join LIV in the summer. However, the allure of extraordinary generational wealth and perhaps the perks of a lighter playing schedule have proved too strong to resist.

The move comes at a crucial moment in the negotiations between LIV Golf's backers, the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, and the PGA Tour. The two competing organizations had been locked in a bitter feud from LIV's inception, with litigation launched from both sides.

However, in a stunning development they announced in June a "framework agreement" was in place for the two to merge, repairing the fractures that have split the golf world over the past two years. Yet LIV snapping up one of the PGA Tour's most prized members is sure to complicate those talks ahead of a Dec. 31 deadline that is sure to be a defining day in the future of the game at the elite level.

Rahm's exit is sure to exacerbate PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan's fears that a second wave of the exodus of players to LIV could follow, although the likes of Adrian Meronk and Jason Day - who were rumored to be on their way to the Saudi-run tour - have distanced themselves from the competition.

Rahm's move will not limit his ability to play in the major championships over the course of his contract with LIV. By winning The Masters this year, he has secured five years of eligibility for the four biggest tournaments of the year.

However, his availability for the 2025 Ryder Cup at Bethpage Black in New York is in serious doubt. European Ryder Cup players must be members of the DP World Tour under current regulations, with fines imposed on any player who competes in a LIV event. As a result, not a single LIV player represented Europe in Rome, and unless a change in qualifying rules is implemented, Europe faces being without one of its best players when it defends the trophy.

2023-12-07T19:18:19Z dg43tfdfdgfd