Defending champ Jon Rahm not listed among AmEx notables

Speculation that Jon Rahm is weighing a lucrative offer to sign with LIV Golf received additional fuel Wednesday when the No. 3-ranked player in the world was not among the notable names listed as committed to the American Express field next month.

The Scottsdale, Ariz. resident regularly plays the American Express in La Quinta, Calif., as part of his West Coast swing schedule. Rahm has won the event twice — including last year — and tied for 14th in 2022.

However, he was not among the marquee names released by tournament organizers Wednesday that includes Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau and Tom Kim.

It is highly unusual for a defending champion to not enter an event, especially one Rahm has enjoyed significant success at. It is worth noting that the 2024 schedule features eight designated events, causing players who qualify for them to carefully evaluate their schedules in conjunction with the four majors and the Players Championship.

The Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines — the site of Rahm’s first major triumph at the 2021 U.S. Open — is the week after the American Express. That is followed by the first designated event at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. And that tournament is immediately followed by the WM Phoenix Open just a short drive from Rahm’s home and the Genesis Invitational, where he is also the defending champion.

It’s very possible that the new schedule, along with the torrid start Rahm enjoyed last year, makes it too challenging to defend in La Quinta. But the fact the Spaniard has yet to commit to the event was another in a string of potential telltale signs that Rahm is indeed weighing an offer from LIV reportedly in the neighborhood of $600 million.

Rahm initially committed to the TGL venture backed by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, only to withdraw from the virtual league’s inaugural season, citing schedule constraints. The TGL has since postponed its first season to 2025 due to damaged caused to its facility by a collapsed roof.

Rahm also was not in the Bahamas last week, where 20 marquee players teed it up in the Hero World Challenge hosted by Woods.

That came a week after divisive golf writer Alan Shipnuck claimed that Phil Mickelson has been telling people that Rahm signing with the Saudi-backed league is a “done deal.” Mickelson sharply denied the report.

However, Jordan Spieth acknowledged the Rahm-LIV rumors after his second round in the Bahamas.

“I know there’s been some guys that have talked to him,” Spieth said Friday. “I know he’s maybe weighing some decisions, maybe not. I really don’t know, so I don’t want to insult him and say he’s weighing decisions if he already knows he’s not or he is. You know, that’s somewhat out of my control in a way.

“Obviously, I could speak probably on behalf of 200-plus PGA Tour players in saying that we really hope that he’s continuing with us.”

Also of note is that Cantlay and Schauffele were included among those committed to the AmEx. Both players have been mentioned as potential marquee names also considering a jump to LIV, especially after withdrawing from the Hero World Challenge.

The PGA Tour is working toward a Dec. 31 deadline for a framework deal put in place with the Public Investment Fund and the DP World Tour in June. Woods, who joined the PGA Tour’s Policy Board as a player director, said things continue to evolve “very quickly” as the deadline approaches.

“Nothing has really surprised me other than the fact that there’s so many different things that have happened so fast,” Woods said Friday when asked about the rumors of more players signing with LIV. “That’s one of the things that all of our — all of us as player-directors we’ve been working on, just that everything is now at a time crunch.”

“It’s 24 hours a day just trying to figure it out.”

For his part, Rahm has yet to comment since the latest LIV rumors surfaced. They arose after his most recent tournament at last month’s DP World Championship, where he tied for fifth.