ROCHESTER, New York (Reuters) – Jon Rahm was the PGA Tour’s hero when he held off LIV Golf contenders to don the green jacket last month, but the Spaniard insisted ahead of his latest PGA Championship campaign that he is staying out of the rival tours’ feud.
Rahm denied the Saudi-backed circuit a watershed victory at Augusta when he beat LIV standard bearers Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson, collecting his second major prize after winning the 2021 U.S. Open.
But he showed little interest on Tuesday in becoming a central character in the saga that has divided the golf world, telling reporters at Rochester, New York, that he remains friends some of the PGA Tour’s defectors.
“Obviously there’s some things in life, some values that I believe in that I might judge if you compromise, but that is your choice to do with your career. It’s your life, it’s your family. You do whatever you want,” said Rahm.
“From that point of view, I’m nobody to tell them what to do. That’s why I would never get emotionally invested in something like that. It’s their life.”
Freeing himself from distractions could work to his benefit at a demanding Oak Hill Country Club course that has drawn comparisons to the notoriously brutal Winged Foot and will reward players with a razor-sharp short game.
“If you don’t hit it through that gap, some of the holes that are quite narrow, those bunkers are no joke,” he said.
“Everybody will miss fairways, everybody will miss greens, so if you can get those up-and-downs, obviously it’s not only a confidence booster, but it’s something that will keep the round going.”
Rahm studied tape from 2013, when Oak Hill last hosted the PGA Championship, and said he suspected it could be “extra difficult” after a recent renovation.
“Whoever is setting up the golf course is going to have a lot of fun,” said Rahm. “You can make this golf course as difficult as you want or not as accessible as you want, but obviously you can make a big difference in the scoring.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Christian Radnedge)