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More Weekly Read: Jon Rahm Can't Play PGA Tour Events Before LIV Season

The Spaniard said he hoped he could continue to play on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour events in his native country.
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More Weekly Read: Chamblee Calls for a Deal | Tiger and the 2024 U.S. Open

Jon Rahm said after signing with LIV Golf that it was his hope that he could continue to play on both the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour. He specifically noted the Spanish Open and events in Spain on the DP World Tour. He’s also the defending champion at two of the first three PGA Tour events, The Sentry and the American Express.

But it appears the PGA Tour option will be out. A player must agree to the obligations of membership, and if he can’t do so, he is ineligible for the 2024 season. That is not surprising, although there was some question as to whether or not Rahm could play prior to his first event with LIV, which is in February.

Jon Rahm follows his ball during the 2023 DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Jon Rahm can't defend his titles at the Sentry and American Express 

Not All Pros Oppose the Rollback

The long-awaited decision by the United States Golf Association and the R&A to roll back the golf ball has come with a good amount of consternation, some of it misplaced, some of it understandable, all of it neglecting that this has been discussed ad nauseam for a couple of decades with the idea that the pro game has or might outgrow some of the venerable courses around the world.

"This should have been done 20 years ago," said Colin Montgomerie, who wholeheartedly supports the rollback and wished it had occurred sooner.

“We wouldn’t have had to spend all of this money on maintenance and water," said Montgomerie, who played in the World Champions Cup this past week in Florida. “We’ve got to feed the world first, never mind golf. It should have been done 20 years ago. Jack Nicklaus said it 20 years ago and so did Gary Player. I’m glad that suddenly things are on the move. I’ll take a few years to come to fruition, but in my view, 20 to 25 years late."

Ernie Els used the example of the Old Course at St Andrews and the par-5 14th hole. At the 2022 British Open, Els played with Spanish golfer Adri Arnaus.

"His ball speed is 190 mph," said Els, 54, a two-time winner of the Open. “I’m hitting my little popper out there. The normal is not my 168 (ball speed). They have a new back tee at the 14th and he was hitting it where I used to hit it from the front tee. I never used to see those little squirrelly bunkers on the left side of the fairway. I always hit it past them. Well, I found myself in those bunkers. To bring those bunkers in play for the next wave of speed, they have to move that tee back 40 yards again. And there’s no space. Another 10 years and where is it going?

“The youth is hitting it miles. Look at Min Woo Lee. He’s got ball speed of 191. A lot more than my 168. For me to swing at that speed is not quite happening anymore. But the bulk of my career, I hit it quite far. In my day I was 295 (yards off the tee). Today I’m still 295. I’m still hitting the ball the same distance. So this new wave is going to go. It’s going to get up to 200 soon. Or 205. Some kid who is 12 who wants to be like Min Woo Lee, in 10 years time, he’s going to be at 200. That’s where it’s going. I understand that argument, but it’s coming. We don’t want to be 20 years down the line and nothing’s happened."

While there has been considerable conjecture about how the rollback will impact the game—which would not go into effect for elite players until 2028 and the rest in 2030—Montgomerie suggested that average golfer need not worry.

"Not at all," he said. “The average guy finds the ball in a bush and uses it. That’s Mr. Average. And if I were an amateur, I’d do exactly the same thing, whether it’s a Srixon or a Callaway doesn’t matter. It’s not that big of a deal for Mr. Average. Most amateurs don’t know how far they hit the ball anyway so it’s of little impact."

A Few Other Things ...

The Grant Thornton event was a long overdue return to mixed team golf on the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour. But both sides can do better. There’s nothing wrong with the event and keeping it but how about another that counts on both tours? It couldn’t be a team event but there’s nothing wrong with having both tours play at the same venue with concurrent events. And a team component could still be worked out by simply adding scores, if that is another way to help it happen.

The start to the 2024 PGA Tour season at the Sentry begins in 24 days. And the first round of the Masters is 122 days away.