Through all the controversy, legal battles and public scrutiny, the LIV Golf series is fighting an every day battle for respect and legitimacy. And they just had their biggest win to date with the addition of Jon Rahm, signing the World No. 3 to a contract reportedly worth between $300-$600 million.
It’s by far the most significant development in the ongoing struggle for power in professional golf, and the PGA Tour will be scrambling to get its house in order and prevent another wave of names jumping ship. Given that Rahm was thought to be as loyal to the Tour as it gets, these are scary times in Ponte Vedra Beach.
The biggest logistical roadblock for LIV remains a lack of Official World Golf Ranking points. The 54-hole, no-cut events are not in compliance with current criteria and players without existing major championship exemptions will continue to slide in the rankings and potentially into obscurity if LIV does not get the OWGR approval it so desperately craves.
Entering Masters week, pundits contemplated the possibility of a LIV player winning the green jacket and what it would mean for the upstart league and the sport in general.
Eight months later, the Masters champ is heading to LIV and the upstart now has all top four finishers on the 2023 leaderboard at Augusta – Rahm, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed.
Those four players, along with Dustin Johnson and 2022 British Open champ Cam Smith make up the bulk of LIV’s star player pool. Other past-their-prime players like Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter and Charl Schwartzel have been on board for a while, and they do have some young talent like Harold Varner III, Talor Gooch, Abraham Ancer and Joaquin Niemann.
But LIV Golf set out with a blank check for player acquisition, backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund worth a reported $620 billion. It made some splashy signings but never landed *the* guy – a true headliner, until this week, with Rahm shaking up the global landscape – potentially for good.
LIV will likely continue to try and poach talent in the coming months. They have an endless supply of money and suddenly one of the brightest young stars in golf on the roster. We’ll see if Rahm’s major move changes the mind of some former peers who have remained loyal to the Tour over the past 24 months.
Who Will Leave PGA Tour Next For LIV Golf?
Odds are created by our Bookies.com team and do not reflect odds that may be available on legal betting sites and betting apps.
Hideki Matsuyama, +350
World Ranking: 42
No player has seen more recent speculation in both directions than Matsuyama. He was reportedly a done deal to eventually head to LIV thanks to a massive signing bonus, but those rumors never materialized. We still have him as the most likely big name who could make the jump.
The 2021 Masters champion deals with more on-site media than anyone other than Tiger Woods due to the massive interest in Japan. It visibly wears on him throughout the week and the potential for fewer media obligations and fewer tournaments could be very tempting for Matsuyama. But after looking over several recently-disclosed LIV contracts, that doesn’t seem to be the case, with a lot of media requirements and contractually-obligated glad-handing in store for the defectors.
Xander Schauffele, +400
World Ranking: 6
While Xander’s name was floated out there several times in the summer months, those rumors never materialized. But there’s still some smoke here and the duo of Schauffele and Cantlay withdrawing from Tiger Woods’ Hero World Challenge didn’t exactly dispel the rumors. Schauffele was pretty clear recently when he laid out his priorities earlier this year, but we’ll see if he stands by his words now with the momentum shifting toward LIV following the Rahm acquisition.
“The numbers being thrown around are very obnoxious,” Schauffele said. “There are certain numbers that even fans of mine, if they looked at it and they’d tell me I’m an idiot for not going, but right now, I’m 28-years-old, I want to win major championships, I want to win PGA Tour events, and I really think we can make this product on the PGA Tour, it’s been the best and now there is competition, and we can keep it the best with the talent we have, we just kind of need to unify and keep it together.”
Patrick Cantlay, +450
World Ranking: 5
Cantlay is one of the most emotionally-guarded players on Tour. We hadn’t heard much from him on LIV until he was asked last year if he’d received an offer. His answer didn’t exactly kill any speculation and the video caught fire on Twitter because he danced around the question in such comical fashion.
“My team handles all that kind of stuff, whether it be just any of the sponsors that I have or anything in that department. I haven’t had any direct contact with them recently. So I really, you know, I don’t have anything like that outstanding,” Cantlay said.
Cameron Young, +450
World Ranking: 18
It seems many were fooled by one erroneous report that had Young as a done deal to sign with LIV. Young’s camp was quick to squash that speculation and it sounds like he’s absolutely in sync with the rest of the top players and doesn’t intend to go anywhere. Still, he’s an emerging young talent the likes of which LIV would love to sign – and probably at top dollar.
Tyrrell Hatton, +450
World Ranking: 12
Hatton’s name was tossed around a lot in the spring of 2022 when all the LIV player rumors were gaining steam. He said at the time he wasn’t that interested and intended to remain loyal to the Tour. He benefited greatly from the new designated events, finishing T-2 at the Players and T-4 at the Arnold Palmer to earn more than $4 million from October-April – doubling his 2022 earnings.
While that should theoretically keep him happy on Tour, the fact that he’s playing well and back in the top 15 of the world has to be appealing for LIV, which has already signed many notable English players.
Will Zalatoris, +800
World Ranking: 33
Zalatoris wasn’t very high on our list last year, but recent developments could make LIV a more appealing option for the young star. Prior to withdrawing from the Masters with a back injury, he had a ridiculous six top-10 major finishes and three runner-ups in his last seven attempts. But now that it seems LIV golf players will be allowed to play in the majors, it’s more intriguing.
Zalatoris also missed the entire 2023 season with a back injury before returning at the Hero World Challenge in December. He’s struggled with back issues for a while now and LIV has been a popular landing space for beat-up players who aren’t sure their body will allow them to compete at the highest level for another 20 years.
This is all speculation, however, and Zalatoris did stay loyal to the Tour in the first go-round of player acquisition.
“Look, if you want to do it, no one’s stopping you,” Zalatoris said. “But what we have here is pretty good too, considering every week we’re playing for a pretty great purse on a pretty great golf course and considering the benefits that we have off the course on top of that, it’s pretty tough to beat.”
Collin Morikawa, +800
World Ranking: 14
Morikawa was rumored to be among the signings last fall, which would have been a serious shake-up. He took pleasure in shooting down those rumors on Twitter, stating: “Last week at my press conference, I said the media loves creating drama. Sure enough, I woke up this morning to everyone thinking I was next. Not to say I told you so but…I told you so. To state for the record, once again, you all are wrong. I’ve said since February at Riviera that I’m here to stay on the @PGATOUR and nothing has changed.”
Sungjae Im, +800
World Ranking: 27
It certainly isn’t hurting for money coming off a T-2 finish at the Tour Championship and a $5.75 million payout to finish the 2022 season. LIV has been hitting the international angle and would love to form a Korean team if given the chance, but we don’t know if top choices like Im, Tom Kim, and Si Woo Kim are or have ever been in serious talks.
It is a daily fantasy sports legend for his remarkable consistency in his early years on Tour. He’s still only 25-years-old and the Tour lifestyle doesn’t seem to bother him at all. The dude played an insane 35 tournaments in his first full season, during which he didn’t own a residence and lived out of a suitcase from hotel to hotel. So the allure of fewer golf tournaments doesn’t seem like a strong selling point. He also stated his position last fall.
“Rest assured that I am fully committed to the PGA Tour,” I said. “It has been my lifelong dream to compete on the PGA Tour and I am blessed to have this platform to be able to play with and against the best players in the world. For the record, I would also like to state publicly that I have no affiliation with, and have no intention of discussing an affiliation with, the LIV Tour.”
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Viktor Hovland, +800
World Ranking: 4
Hovland is another young, rising star, with LIV desperate to acquire more players in that mold. He told Norwegian media he has “no plans” to leave the Tour, and said last year that, “If I had my wish, I would just keep playing the PGA Tour.” Those comments weren’t nearly as strong as some we’ve heard from other top players, and Hovland’s name has been out there as a potential candidate.
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Tony Finau, +800
World Ranking: 21
Finau’s comments from last June almost sounded like he was still on the fence, but he’s since picked off three more wins on Tour and seems very content in his current place.
“I don’t have a stance on it yet. I think we’re just like everyone, don’t really know what’s going on with that. But I’m grateful to be on the PGA Tour, it’s been an honor for me to have an opportunity to play and display my talent in front of the world on a tour like the PGA Tour, so much history there.”
Matt Fitzpatrick, +1000
World Ranking: 8
Fitzpatrick was another rumored name last year, and it turns out LIV also offered his brother, Alex Fitzpatrick, ahead of his pro debut at the Irish Open. Alex and Matt both said, ‘no thanks’ with Matt coming off his first major victory at the U.S. Open. Both seemed to have taken a lot of time with the decision, indicating there won’t be a change of course in the near future.
Tom Kim, +1000
World Ranking: 11
Previously known as Joohyung Kim, 20-year-old Tom Kim has been an absolute menace after bursting on the scene in 2022, with three top-10 finishes and a win at the Wyndham Championship. He’s exactly the type of young, rising player LIV would look to build an international team around. The reason they’ve struggled to get guys like that is the risk involved for young guys with no status to guarantee spots in upcoming majors, with LIV currently ineligible for OWGR points. So far we haven’t seen any serious smoke with Kim and LIV, but you know he’ll continue to be a top target having recently played his way into the world top 20.
Kurt Kitayama, +1000
World Ranking: 29
Kitayama is now inside the top 30 after earning his first career Tour win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It was a dream week for the 30-year-old journeyman, who was ranked No. 55 to start the season. That week at Bay Hill proved that the designated events give the grinders like Kitayama a chance to make a serious splash and earn a huge payday by getting hot at the right time.
While his LIV stock might never be higher, Kitayama has always embraced the journey and seems to finally be reaching his potential on Tour.
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Max Homa, +1500
World Ranking: 7
Homa would be an amazing get for LIV, worth a big price tag for the social media boost alone. But Homa has pledged his allegiance to the Tour at every turn and given no indication he plans on looking elsewhere. Now firmly inside the top 10 and on the verge of becoming a bona-fide superstar, it’s hard to blame him.
Keegan Bradley, +1500
World Ranking: 15
Bradley is still one of the most recognizable faces on Tour, and he’s been playing some vintage golf again with a victory early in the season at the ZOZO Championship. He also had a different reaction to LIV than his peers, saying he likes the format and is bummed friends like Brendan Steele and Cameron Tringale won’t be around on Tour anymore.
But signing Bradley wouldn’t be a big enough splash for LIV to justify a huge contract, and Bradley still sounds like he’s driven by the big events that would be off the table if he made the leap.
“I’m happy for the guys that went and got a ton of money – I mean, that’s what we’re doing out here,” Bradley said. “For me, like, I want to win the Players. I want to win Bay Hill, Memorial.”
Tommy Fleetwood, +1500
World Ranking: 13
Fleetwood is one of those anomalies who still doesn’t have a Tour victory, despite being a world-class player for years. He has seven international victories and his career would certainly feel incomplete if he jumped to LIV like many of his English counterparts. He was rumored to be among them last year, but so far there’s no indication it will ever become a reality.
Shane Lowry, +1800
World Ranking: 37
Lowry gave a long explanation as to why he’s sticking with the Tour, and the 2019 British Open champ and regular golf betting favorite seems intent on getting the message out there and helping keep his fellow top players right where they are. This Irishman seems like he’s staying put.
Scottie Scheffler, +5000
World Ranking: 1
Scheffler already has six Tour wins over the last two years, including the 2022 Masters. He’s made more than $25 million throughout that stretch with plenty of big-money tournaments left to play this season. Scheffler seems very content with his current situation, he’s denied any interest, and we don’t see that changing in the future.
Justin Thomas, +5000
World Ranking: 26
Thomas’ stature on Tour is even more essential now as one of the best young players and representatives in the world. He is frequently among the golf odds favorites for PGA Tour events. His comments have been almost dismissive of LIV’s efforts and he doesn’t hide his thoughts on players who have said one thing and done another by jumping ship.
“It’s like, ‘Look, if you want to go, go,’” Thomas said. “There’s been plenty of guys that have been advocates of it and have just talked it up all the time, and there have been guys behind the scenes that are saying, ‘I’m going, I’m doing this.’ And like my whole thing is, like, just go then. … Like, stop going back and forth or like you say you’re going to do this. Everybody’s entitled to do what they want, you know what I mean? Like if I wanted to go play that tour I could go play that tour. But I’m loyal to the PGA Tour and I’ve said that.”
Jordan Spieth, +5000
World Ranking: 16
Spieth remains one of the most compelling figures in the game, he’s a golden boy on Tour and his loyalty is beyond question.
Rory McIlroy, +10000
World Ranking: 2
McIlroy is coming off his record-setting third Tour Championship win and isn’t going anywhere. He has been the most vocal player coming out against LIV at every turn, with deeply thought-out reasoning and explanations and a great grasp on what LIV is actually trying to do – growing the game ain’t it. There’s no way he’s going back on his word after everything he’s said in recent years.