Like the rest of the golfing world, Jon Rahm woke up to the news that Rory McIlroy had resigned his position on the PGA Tour Policy Board, but firmly shut the door on any speculation that he may be in line to take Rory’s position alongside Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay and others on the board.
Rahm is in Dubai with his Ryder Cup teammate as they get set to contest the DP World Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Estates’ Earth Course, and the reigning Masters champion acknowledges the level of commitment it takes to be an effective board member.
“Oh, you won’t see me there,” he rapidly responded to suggestions that a vacancy had now opened. “Absolutely no chance. I’ve been asked a couple times if I have any interest, and I’m not going to spend, I don’t know how many meetings they have, but they are six, seven, hour plus long. I’m not — I’m not here for that.
“As regards to Rory, he’s obviously been put in a situation where a lot has been expected of him, and I don’t know the exact reason why he left the board. But I certainly wouldn’t blame somebody like him to just want to focus a bit more on his game and his family and enjoy the bit of time he’s truly earned.
“Again, it’s a big commitment for somebody to be part of it.”
The defending champion, Rahm is a three-time DP World Tour Championship winner, but a fourth title is the best he can hope for this week with McIlroy already having sewn up the Race to Dubai title and Rahm acknowledges that Rory was a worthy winner, and says it’s more the fans that he feels for in the scenario.
“I think it’s more disappointing for the fans,” he said. “If I was just within one point, probably it would be a very unlikely scenario — on the leaderboard, which I don’t think has ever happened here.
“At the same time, though, it’s really my fault. He played great golf. I could have tried to get more points to myself a chance this week. He did what he needed to do. I didn’t.”
Despite having his best year on the PGA Tour, winning the Masters, and three other PGA Tour titles, a slight drop in form heading into the FedEx Cup saw him fall behind going into the Tour Championship and when asked which format he preferred, the answer was pretty clear.
“I’m not a big fan of the FedExCup finals,” he reitterated. “I’ve said that many times. It’s the only sport when you get to the finals, you give somebody an advantage; I’m not a fan of it, obviously.
“I would be a bigger fan of somehow structuring to where if you win the tournament, certain people have a chance like it used to be in the FedExCup, or the top five going to East Lake, if they won. At the same time, if you play as good as Rory has and you’ve built up a lead, like I said, you’ve earned it.
“Like I said, I had the option to play more tournaments and trying to earn more points. I just didn’t.
“I think this format is more fair to the better player whoever played better throughout the year. I think the one that they have in the FedExCup right now would be more exciting for the viewers. It all depends what you prefer.”
The Spaniard doubled down on his reasoning for opting out of the TGL, citing the additional travel commitments and wanting to spend more time with his family as the decisive factors.
With the Olympic Games scheduled for 2024 and Paris’ Le Golf National being a course that Rahm has fond memories of having taken down Tiger Woods in singles competition in his maiden Ryder Cup, the Games are an important part of Rahm’s season plans and he described just how much winning a medal for Spain would mean to him.
“Well, golf course-wise,” he began, “I think it’s one of the better golf courses I’ve played in my career.
“The French Open is certainly an extremely difficult tournament to win, and to become a champion there is something special. I was close to being able to do it. I didn’t play my best down the stretch. I’m always going to regret that. The Ryder Cup was absolutely fantastic and I was able to play in the European Masters when I was 14, 15 years old. So I’ve had quite a bit of experience and always enjoyed it thoroughly, both as an amateur and as a professional. It’s a very enjoyable golf course, very, very difficult.
“Now, the Olympics, I believe right now that they don’t have the magnitude they will have maybe in the future, right. But at the same time, in the world of sports, maybe in golf and tennis becoming a Major Champion might mean more than having a Gold Medal. But maybe because we didn’t grow up with that being a possibility. But in the world of sports, very few things can compare to that.
“So I think it’s something in my career, it would be an honour to maybe contribute to the medal count for my country. I think it’s quite special.”