LIV Golf star Jon Rahm returns to Augusta for Masters title defence facing major questions

When Jon Rahm returns to August, things for the Spaniard appear very different from how they did a year ago, when he overcame an early four-putt double bogey to win.

How much a year can change.

Twelve months prior, having won three of his first eight events of the year, Jon Rahm arrived at Augusta National and despite making a four-putt double bogey, went on to win the Masters.

Rahm will drive down Magnolia Lane a year from now as a member of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf League, having competed in just five of the league’s 54-hole events prior to defending his title. Rahm’s remarks right after donning the green jacket and his prior public statements regarding the structure of LIV and his assertion that he played golf to win titles rather than money make the change all the more shocking.

After winning his second major championship on the 40th anniversary of his late idol’s second victory at Augusta National—a victory that also occurred on Ballesteros’ 66th birthday—Rahm dedicated his victory to Seve Ballesteros.

Rahm said, “One of the reasons I play is because of the history of the game, and Seve being one of them.” Rahm’s father started playing golf after seeing Ballesteros lead Europe to victory in the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama.

“My dad and I frequently discuss where we would be as a family and where I would be if not for that Ryder Cup in 1997.

“It means so much to me to finish it on Easter Sunday, his birthday, and the 40th anniversary of his victory.”

Rahm also knew that he was halfway to completing a career grand slam and becoming one of only four players in history to win all four majors, along with Tiger Woods, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, and Jack Nicklaus.

Rahm’s ability to accomplish that objective is unaffected by joining LIV because his victory at the Masters gave him lifetime exemptions to Augusta National Golf Club and five-year exemptions to the US PGA and Open Championship.

Because of his victory at Torrey Pines, the 29-year-old was already qualified to play in the US Open through 2031. However, it is unclear how the switch to LIV will impact his game.

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