jose maria olazabal warns jon rahm he is risking ryder cup future

Jose Maria Olazabal warns Jon Rahm he is risking Ryder Cup future

Jon Rahm and Jose Maria Olazabal celebrate at the Ryder Cup in Rome last year

Jon Rahm embracing Jose Maria Olazabal at the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome – PA/Mike Egerton

Jon Rahm has been told by fellow Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal that “actions must have consequences”.  Olazabal has also speculated that if the two-time major winner is ineligible for the Ryder Cup then Europe could still be competitive.

Rahm is playing in his second LIV Golf event here at the Las Vegas Country Club this week after signing for the Saudi-funded league in December in a £450 million deal. When the world No 3’s shock move was announced, Rory McIlroy immediately declared that Europe must change their eligibility rules to ensure Rahm was in the team for next year’s match in New York.

Yet Olazabal, the former captain, who Rahm admits has had an influence on his career, is not as certain. “I respect everyone who has gone to LIV Golf,” Olazabal told the Golf sin Etiquetas podcast. “The other part that bothers me is that if you make a decision, it must have consequences. You can’t expect to have the same rights as PGA Tour and DP World Tour players.

“As for changing the rules for Ryder Cup Europe… I don’t know what to tell you. If you miss players like Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton, you could be left naked for one or two Ryder Cups. And? What if you suddenly get three Ludvig Abergs, the Hjogaard [twins]? Turns out we might be able to compete.”

The status of Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton – the Englishman who defected in a £50 million deal two weeks ago – remains up in the air while the negotiations of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour continue with the Public Investment Fund, the Saudi £600 billion treasure trove that funds LIV.

Luke Donald, the Europe captain, reiterated on Monday that there were seven months before qualification for the match in Long Island begins and that there was plenty of time for things to alter. And clearly, if peace does break out with PIF, the regulations would be overhauled to make it possible for LIV players to appear in the Ryder Cup.

However, if the talks stall, or even break down in the wake of the recent £2.4 billion investment into the PGA Tour by US private equity, then there is risk that Rahm and Hatton will be deemed ineligible.

As it stands, both must remain members of the DP World Tour through 2025 and, although the pair maintained here yesterday that was exactly what they intended, they might struggle to retain their cards for next year if Wentworth HQ issues similar bans to those it did last year to the rebels. Those sanctions forced Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia to resign from the circuit and so effectively quit the blue-and-gold.

Jon Rahm competing at LIV Golf Mayakoba after signing a shock breakaway dealJon Rahm competing at LIV Golf Mayakoba after signing a shock breakaway deal

Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton were in action at LIV Golf Mayakoba last week – Reuters/Raquel Cunha

Rahm, however, has not given up the hope of fulfilling his minimum quota of four regular DP World Tour events for 2024.
“With the DP World Tour, we’ve seen examples of people playing events – that’s definitely a possibility,” Rahm said. “If allowed, I would love to play the Spanish Open.. and if I qualify, I’d still love to go play in Dubai, in the DP World Tour Championship. There’s certainly events I would like to play.”

However, Rahm concedes that he will be absent from the tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship in September, because it clashes with the final LIV tournament of the season. “A tournament that both me and Tyrrell are going to miss dearly is Wentworth,” he said.

Rahm’s “Legion XIII” squad, including Hatton, picked up the team prize in Mexico on Sunday. Joaquin Niemann collected the £3.2 million individual prize, but with no ranking points at LIV, at 74th in the world the 25-year-old from Chile looks certain to miss out on the Masters, the season’s first major in May. Niemann has won two of his past four events and finished fourth and fifth in the others and is clearly one of the game’s form players.

“Do I believe Joaco deserves to be in the majors? Yes,” Rahm said. “Does he have the talent to contend and possibly win majors? Yes.

“It’s a little bit sad, but it’s hopefully something that we see a change in the future. Because there’s definitely a lot of players here that are more than capable to contend and win majors and are not going to have the chance in the near future.

“Look, every other tour in the world can qualify pretty much, and if anybody thinks that the players here are not capable of or high enough quality to go out and compete in majors, I think they should come and see for themselves – some of the best players in the world are here.

“Ideally, to be the best in the world, you have to beat the best in the world – period. Not that there will be an asterisk, but Joaco not being there is definitely a step down in the level of the field.”

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