Rory McIlroy accuses Jon Rahm of helping ‘cannibalise’ golf by taking £400m Saudi deal to quit the PGA Tour and join LIV Golf, overtaking Cristiano Ronaldo as the world’s best-paid sportsman

Rory McIlroy has admitted his concerns over the growing ‘divide’ in golf following Jon Rahm’s decision to leave the PGA Tour and join the LIV circuit. 

The Northern Irishman’s comments come after Rahm, on Thursday, finalised terms on a move to LIV Golf that will net the Masters champion north of £400million ($500million). 

LIV announced the news of the world No 3’s defection by posting a word search with his name – spelt incorrectly as ‘John’ on the fourth and fifth row – on X, formerly known as Twitter, late Thursday night.

The Spaniard will join the likes of Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia in the LIV circuit – which McIlroy suggested could further ‘divide’ the sport. 

Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: ‘My fear is that we continue down this path where we have competing tours and it divides the eyeballs that are on the game.

Rory McIlroy (R) has lashed out at Jon Rahm's (L) recent decision to join LIV Golf

Rory McIlroy (R) has lashed out at Jon Rahm’s (L) recent decision to join LIV Golf

The Masters champion officially jumped ship from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf on Thursday

The Masters champion officially jumped ship from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf on Thursday

The Northern Irishman suggested Rahm's move will help 'cannibalise' the sport of golf

The Northern Irishman suggested Rahm’s move will help ‘cannibalise’ the sport of golf

‘Some people like LIV, the majority of people like the PGA Tour, but if LIV start to take a few players each and every year it’s really going to be divided and that’s no good for anyone.

Top 10 highest-paid athletes

1. Jon Rahm – Golf – £400m

2. Cristiano Ronaldo – Football – £136m

3. Lionel Messi – Football – £130m

4. Kylian Mbappe – Football – £120m

5. LeBron James – Basketball – £119.5m

6. Canelo Alvarez – Boxing – £110m

7. Dustin Johnson – Golf – £107m

8. Phil Mickelson – Golf – £106m

9. Stephen Curry – Basketball – £100.4m

10. Roger Federer – Tennis – £95m 

‘You’re basically cannibalising yourself as a sport, sort of the same as what boxing has done with all the different organisations and a few other sports have as well. 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.

‘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. 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.’ 

Rahm, meanwhile, admitted that his move from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf came as a result of the Saudi-funded tour’s ‘enticing offers’.

On Thursday, Rahm appeared on Fox News, wearing a LIV jacket, to confirm his move after LIV posted a crossword puzzle to hint his signing. However, Rahm did not openly say how much he is being paid to switch tours.

‘It’s not an easy decision,’ Rahm said. ‘There were a lot of things LIV had to offer that was really enticing.’

The Spaniard’s persuading deal to head to LIV is believed to earn him round £400million ($500million), making him the highest-paid golfer on LIV’s roster. 

The figure also sees him earn almost three times as much as Cristiano Ronaldo, whose Al-Nassr contract is thought to be worth around £136m-a-year according to Forbes, although other reports suggest his wages are closer to £175m. 

The World No. 3 has reportedly inked a deal worth upwards of £400million ($500million)

The World No. 3 has reportedly inked a deal worth upwards of £400million ($500million)

The Spaniard's defection could cost him his eligibility for the Ryder Cup in 2025

The Spaniard’s defection could cost him his eligibility for the Ryder Cup in 2025 

‘I can’t comment on any of that, nor do I want to,’ Rahm said about his deal. ‘It is private and it is going to stay private. Listen, it was a great offer. The money is great, it is wonderful’.

Rahm insisted the motive behind the move was to grow the game, adding: ‘I’m an ambitious person, not a greedy one.’

Rahm also expressed his interest in playing team golf which is emphasized in LIV’s format. Rahm recalled to his time playing for the Spanish national team and Arizona State during his collegiate years. 

‘Being part of a team has been something that’s really big for me throughout my career,’ Rahm said. ‘As a pro, you don’t have that chance very often. It is something that is very very fun to play, for something that is more than just yourself.’

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3-503/3.5When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 3 points, the team betting on the handicap loses 50% and wins all 4 points.
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