Rahm: It’s sad that Joaquin Niemann can’t play in the majors

Ronan MacNamara
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Jon Rahm (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Current Masters champion Jon Rahm hopes that there will be a change in the golfing landscape that allows LIV golfers to qualify for major championships regardless of whether they are awarded world ranking points or not.

Rahm, the world number three, believes last week’s LIV Golf winner Joaquin Niemann deserves to be in the major championships and that any field without the Chilean star is diminished in quality.

After winning LIV’s season-opening event Sunday at Mayakoba in a playoff with Sergio Garcia, Niemann started his post-round interview by saying, “But I’m not in the majors.”

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The 25-year-old is exempt into the Open Championship after winning the Australian Open at the end of 2023 but faces missing out on the Masters, US Open and US PGA Championship if he doesn’t qualify or improve his world ranking of 74.

“Do I believe he deserves to be in majors? Yes. Does he have the talent to contend and possibly win majors? Yes,” claimed Rahm ahead of LIV Las Vegas.

“But unfortunately the reality that he’s going to have to try to qualify for two of them, and I don’t think he can play two of the other ones.

“It’s a little bit sad, but it’s hopefully something that we see a change in the future, encouraging players in LIV Golf to be able to qualify or maybe a change in the World Ranking, whatever it may be, 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. I hope it changes.

“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.

“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, because again, some of the best players in the world are still here and deserve a chance.”

Rahm also reiterated his desire to compete on the DP World Tour this year and to hopefully be welcomed back to the PGA Tour in the future.

“I have hope. That’s all I can say on my part. With DP World Tour, though, we’ve seen examples of people playing events. That’s definitely a possibility.

“I would love to, if allowed and if I can, go play the Spanish Open, and if it doesn’t conflict with LIV’s schedule, right. But a tournament that both me and Tyrrell are going to miss dearly is Wentworth. If I qualify, I’d still love to go play in Dubai, the DP World TOUR Championship. There’s certainly events I would like to play.

“PGA TOUR, we’ll see. If there’s ever a way back and a way where we can play, even if it’s as an invite, I will take it. Like I said, there’s certain events that are special to me that I would still love to support.”

The Spaniard enjoyed a prolific opening to the 2023 season, winning four times between January and April, including the Masters.

Rahm has already missed out on defending his titles at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and The American Express while he will also miss out on an opportunity to defend his Genesis title next week. It is a sacrifice that has been tough for him.

“It was a lot harder to be at home not competing and know that those events were going on. Palm Springs and Torrey, those weeks were hard. I’ve explained so many times how important Torrey is for me. And driving by Phoenix as often as I had to and knowing that I wasn’t going to play there, it’s definitely emotional. That’s one of the things that I’m going to miss.

“I’m hoping that in the near future I can be back playing some of those events. I would certainly love to go back and play some of them.

“Now, when the tournament started, we’re here to compete, so whatever else is going on, whatever tournament is going on doesn’t really matter. We’re here to hopefully perform well and win. It’s a lot easier while we’re playing.”

 

 

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