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Viktor Hovland has labelled PGA Tour chiefs as “arrogant” following Jon Rahm’s move to LIV Golf.
Rahm is arguably the biggest name to make the switch to the Saudi-backed series from the PGA Tour so far, as he signed a controversial deal reportedly worth up to £450m earlier this month.
The Masters champion and world No 3 was a former critic of LIV Golf and previously said in 2022 that he did not like the LIV format and respected golf’s history too much to be influenced by financial offers. Rahm previously pledged his allegiance to the PGA Tour and said the “only appeal” of LIV, which is played as a team-based competition over 54 holes, was money.
The Spaniard changed his tune in recent weeks, insisting he wasn’t joining for the money, and Ryder Cup teammate Hovland – who is one of golf’s biggest rising stars – doesn’t blame his European counterpart for making the move.
Instead he has hit out at those in charge of the PGA Tour for making decisions without player input and trying to dictate terms, believing that players defecting to LIV is an inevitbale consequence.
“It would be a bit too silly to criticise the players for leaving.,” Hovland told Discovery’s golf podcast Fore.“After all, you only hear one angle in the media, and there are quite a few different parts happening at the same time here.
“I totally understand why he left. That’s a lot, a lot of money. And at least when the management of the PGA Tour has done such a bad job. Just to be clear: I’m not complaining about the position I’m in, and I’m very grateful for everything. But the management has not done a good job. They almost see the players as labour, and not as part of the members.
“After all, we are the PGA Tour. Without the players, there is nothing. When you then get to see what happens behind closed doors, how the management actually makes decisions, which are not in the players’ best interest, but best for themselves and what they think is best… They are not professional golfers after all. They are businessmen who say that ‘no, it should look like this and that’. There is a great deal of arrogance behind it all.”
Rahm and Hovland are rivals on a weekly basis but Ryder Cup teammates
Hovland himself has been linked with a move to LIV in recent weeks, with Rahm’s defection sparking plenty of speculation that other big names will follow suit.
But the Norwegian has dismissed that suggestion for now, stressing that the current format isn’t something he’s interested in as he seeks a first major title.
“I don’t think their product is that great,” added Hovland. “I’m not such a fan of, for example, playing without a cut. You need the competition with 150 players and a cut. If you don’t play well enough, you’re out. There is something about it that makes your game a little sharper.
“If I had gone to LIV, I don’t think I would have become a better golfer. And then it is, in a way, end of discussion. But I can’t blame people who make that decision and go over there. Then we have to try to find an arrangement in the end. We’ll see.”