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Spanish ace Rahm confirms jump to LIV Golf

NEW YORK - Reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm confirmed he is joining LIV Golf in a deal reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars, sealing a stunning coup for the Saudi Arabia-backed circuit.

After weeks of 'Will he-won't he?' speculation linking the Spanish world number three with a move to LIV, Rahm announced his decision to leave the PGA Tour in an interview with Fox News. 

"As you can see now it's official, this is me finally saying after all the rumors... I have officially joined LIV Golf," Rahm told the US network.

LIV Golf issued a statement saying details for a team captained by Rahm in the coming season, which starts on February 2 at LIV Golf Mayakoba in Mexico, will be released soon.

Two-time major-winner Rahm, whose deal was reportedly worth between $300 million and $600 million, becomes arguably the biggest star to join LIV, the upstart circuit whose emergence has upended the golfing world over the past two years.

His move comes as the PGA Tour and the Saudi backers of LIV Golf attempt to finalise the details of their bombshell merger announced in June.

A deadline of December 31 has been set to agree a framework for the new PGA-LIV joint venture.

The Wall Street Journal speculated Rahm's signing could either be a tactic by LIV's backers to force the PGA Tour to conclude a deal by the agreed deadline, or a move to give fresh impetus to the rival circuit in 2024 if the proposed joint tie-up collapses.

"LIV Golf is here to stay," LIV Golf Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Burian said in a statement. "The addition of Jon reemphasizes that our League is not slowing down. We are continuing to invest and build aggressively for LIV's long-term and exciting future."

The possibility of Rahm jumping ship to LIV had once seemed unthinkable.

While LIV successfully recruited major winners such as Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Smith, Rahm had been one of the most staunch PGA loyalists, repeatedly stating that the riches offered by LIV held no appeal when balanced against the tradition of the PGA Tour.

"I laugh when people rumor me with LIV. I've never liked the format," Rahm said earlier this year.

Asked in his Fox interview on Thursday about his past criticism of LIV's 54-hole, shotgun start format he said he'd be discussing it with LIV officials, but had made his peace with it.

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