Jon Rahm’s controversial move to LIV Golf last month sent shockwaves through the world of golf, leaving many players and fans alike upset by the Spaniard’s U-turn on joining the Saudi backed tour. But what gets lost amongst the chaos is the opportunity that presents itself to somebody else.
If it wasn’t for Jon Rahm, 36-hole leader at the Sony Open Carl Yuan would not be starting his PGA Tour season in Hawaii this week.
Yuan agonisingly missed out on retaining his PGA Tour card last year when he finished 126th in the FedEx Cup standings. He was preparing to earn his card back via PGA Tour Q-School before Rahm’s move to LIV caused the two-time major winner to be suspended by the PGA Tour and bumped Yuan into the top-125, thus retaining his card for 2024.
“I was very thrilled,” said Yuan who had plied his trade on the Korn Ferry Tour for three years, winning once. “It gives me another chance to improve and get better.”
The Chinese golfer was then eligible for the Sony Open and after 36 holes, he shares the lead on nine-under-par as he hunts a fairytale maiden PGA Tour victory.
From potential obscurity to the big time.
“My wife was going to caddie for me at Q-School and it was raining,” he said – and then later that night got word that Rahm was suspended and he was in and the wife had the week off.
Yuan wasn’t overly concerned because he would have had limited status. As it turns out, even some of the rookies with full cards didn’t get into the Sony Open.
“Before I learned the news, I was really trying to get myself ready and come out and play good in Hawaii and on the West Coast and try to earn myself back on tour,” Yuan said.
“Luckily I got full status, but I’m still trying to do the same thing and come out here and play the best I can.”
Yuan may not receive the $500m that Rahm pocketed from his move to LIV but the 26-year-old could change the course of his career with the most unlikely of victories this weekend.
A win would give the world number 185 a two-year exemption onto the PGA Tour, just over $1.4 million and a place inside the top-100 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
While some PGA Tour events may be devoid of star quality this season due to the absence of LIV players, it is worth remembering, somebody else could benefit from the opportunity that they wouldn’t have had before.