Count Sergio Garcia among those thankful that Jon Rahm signed with LIV Golf, even if they’re on opposing teams.
Garcia, the captain of Fireballs GC, welcomed his friend and fellow Spaniard to LIV ahead of the debut of Rahm and his team, Legion XIII, at the season opener this week at Mayakoba.
“I think it’s definitely exciting,” Garcia said. “Anytime you can have a player the quality of Jon in your league, it’s amazing. We’re very thankful to have him here.
“I think it’s a great addition, not only with him but with (teammate Tyrrell Hatton) and everyone that is new in the league. I think it’s nice to see. It’s exciting for everyone. We couldn’t be happier.”
Rahm left the PGA Tour to join LIV in December on a deal reportedly in excess of $300 million. The reigning Masters champion is No. 3 in the world rankings, marking the latest and largest splash by the Saudi PIF-backed golf league.
Garcia and Rahm developed a bond as countrymen and generational talents. They have teamed up for the European Ryder Cup squad, and when Garcia’s move to LIV precluded him from playing in the Ryder Cup in 2023, Rahm was vocal in his support for Garcia.
Upon adding a 13th team to accommodate Rahm, LIV will have fields of 54 players to match their 54 holes — 13 teams of four and two unaffiliated “wild cards” in each event.
“I think the league is getting stronger, like Sergio said, and it’s fun,” Garcia’s Fireballs teammate Eugenio Chacarra of Spain said. “I think we feel pretty good, and the more players and the more quality of players, I think the tougher it is, and for me as a young guy, the more I can learn from them and get my game ready for the future, it’s better.”
Garcia had more reasons to smile, as last week the Spanish broadcaster Movistar announced an agreement to show LIV’s events on its streaming platform, Movistar Plus+.
“I know that the demand (from) the Spanish people, like obviously friends of mine that I know and everyone was asking, ‘How can we watch it better?’ and stuff like that,” Garcia said. “I think that everyone is super, super excited.”
Garcia’s team is the most Spanish-heavy, as he, Chacarra and fellow youngster David Puig are joined by Mexican pro Abraham Ancer. But before the league crosses the ocean to compete at the famed Spanish course Real Club Valderrama in July, it’s opening in Mexico, where the Latin American-heavy Torque GC will be a fan favorite.
“I think what LIV is doing, it’s all about growing the game, and I think that’s what we are doing here,” said Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz, who played for Fireballs last season before joining Torque.
“Mayakoba has been great in doing that, having the (PGA Tour) tournament before this and now continuing with LIV, and we’re just honored to be part of that, I guess, legacy or team of people that are growing golf in Latin America.”