On Sunday, instead of contending in the final round of the PGA Tour's Mexico Open — as he did in 2023Jon Rahm talked with ESPN's Marty Smith about his decision to join LIV Golf — and how Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy handled the news.

In 2022, Rahm, arguably the best player in the world, “declared his fealty” to the PGA Tour. Two major championships later, Rahm took the $600 million bag from the Public Investment Fund (PIF). Rahm's departure damaged the tour's product and negotiating power, though it gained back leverage via its deal with SSG. Many assumed Rahm was securing a once-in-a-lifetime bag in anticipation of a merger.

“From when I said that, certain circumstances changed,” Rahm explained. “When the PGA Tour and PIF got into this agreement framework and they agreed to maybe work together in the future, it opened my mind to well, maybe I’ve been a little closed-minded to this. And maybe I should give myself a chance. As an athlete and entertainer, I think I owe it to myself to hear the other side out. And that’s what I did.”

The 29-year-old Spaniard was frank about his reasoning for jumping to the Shark. No growing the game talking points (this time).

“LIV Golf wasn’t a thing or a possibility for us growing up. PGA Tour was the pinnacle of golf. … There’s a big change in the way the golfers get compensated. I’d be lying if it wasn’t a big part of it. In a nutshell, I’m getting paid to play the same sport and have more time. I don’t know about most people, but that sounds great to me.”

Rahm stressed that he'd like to continue to support the PGA Tour if an agreement can be reached. He acknowledged that he wouldn't have gone to LIV had he not won The Masters in 2023 — guaranteeing his entry into the field. (LIV remains unrecognized by the Official World Golf Ranking.)

Rahm told ESPN his “biggest concern was … a little bit of negative media backlash.”

“If you wanna let’s say, improve your position, I think you’re free to go to job interviews. I have the right to do what I think is best for myself and my family. Period.”

As for accusations of sportswashing levied at PIF,  Rahm said his concerns were allayed after seeing the commitment to be “involved” with the PGA Tour from the “people in charge”.

McIlroy was LIV's most high-profile outspoken opponent on the PGA Tour for two years. But, like Rahm, he recently altered his stance in hopeful anticipation of an eventual uniting of professional golf leagues. McIlroy was seemingly more receptive to Rahm's decision than Tiger Woods.

“Rory has been supportive publicly of my decision, he was privately as well,” said Rahm when asked if he's heard from either star. “Tiger, no not really. I texted him and had people try to reach out throughout the process when I signed. I just let him know ‘Hey, this is a personal decision, I have nothing against anybody.'”

Rahm finished T3 and his Legion XIII team won at LIV's first event of 2024 in Mayakoba. Rahm was T8 in Las Vegas and his team finished fifth. He'll compete in LIV Golf Jeddah on March 1-3.