Jon Rahm wants the European Ryder Cup team to be as strong as it can possibly be in 2023, which has led him to strike a moderate tone when it comes to those who defected to LIV Golf.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday ahead of the CJ Cup in South Carolina, the Spaniard said it’s “important” for Team Europe to have a welcoming stance toward its potential players to keep team chemistry in balance.
“So far the two Ryder Cups I’ve been a part of, once you arrive and you’re in that team environment, it’s an unusual situation where everybody can be truly themselves with players that they maybe usually are not,” Rahm said. “So you need to have that welcoming aspect. If there’s some animosity between players, it’s just not going to work out. Very few teams can succeed when players don’t get along.”
However, he said, the good vibes can’t be forced.
“I don’t know if you can really make that happen,” he said. “… Yeah, so I want the best players at the time and the best Ryder Cup players to be there, but if that includes having some bad blood and having some issues, I don’t know if that’s necessarily a (good) thing, right?”
Whereas Team Europe compatriot Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland has said old Ryder Cup bonds were broken when some of his former teammates went to LIV, Rahm has taken a different path. He’s defended countryman Sergio Garcia, the player who’s won the most points in Ryder Cup history, saying it “bothered” him that his LIV allegiance could preclude him from future Ryder Cups.
And on Oct. 9, after he won the Spanish Open, Rahm took time to give a public shoutout to Spanish up-and-comer Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra for winning the LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok.
None of that means Rahm is necessarily sympathetic to LIV or is thinking about defecting, himself. He responded to Phil Mickelson’s recent remark that the PGA Tour is “trending downward” with some measure of incredulity.
“Man, I love Phil, but I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Rahm said. “I really, I really don’t know why he said that. There’s been some changes being made, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going down, right? I truly don’t know why he said that.
“I think there’s some great changes being made and great changes for the players on the Tour. I truly don’t know what drove him to say something like that.”
–Field Level Media