LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Jon Rahm’s move to LIV Golf last year has been portrayed as a turning point in the “us vs. them” narrative that has overrun this sport over the past 24 months.

Rahm insists he never fully bought into that.

“You guys keep saying ‘the other side,’” Rahm said Tuesday as he prepared for the PGA Championship at Valhalla. “But I’m still a PGA Tour member, whether suspended or not. I still want to support the PGA Tour, and I think that’s an important distinction to make.”

The Spaniard startled golf when he left for LIV in December — a move that brought with it his suspension from the PGA Tour.

Not only was it a blow to the quality of the tour — Rahm is a two-time major winner who has been ranked No. 1 — it also felt like a low blow to some, considering Rahm had been one of the most high-profile supporters of the tour when the schism first erupted.

Rahm insisted it was his choice to make and sometimes people change. His move came about six months after the tour and the owners of LIV announced they were in negotiations to reunite golf.

Some saw Rahm’s departure for LIV as a sure sign of new-found leverage for the Saudi-backed league in the negotiations. Now that those negotiations have dragged on for nearly a year, some key players — most notably, Rory McIlroy — have softened the “us vs. them” narrative.

Rahm made clear he never believed in it to start.

“I don’t feel like I’m on the other side. I’m just not playing there,” he said.

Rahm is one of 16 LIV players in the field this week at the PGA — the second of the year’s four majors, which now mark the only times the best players all converge for the same tournament.

This month’s headlines have been filled with news of McIlroy being added to the PGA Tour’s negotiating team, along with the resignation of a key power broker, Jimmy Dunne, from that team. All this speaks to the overarching issue — as they head into Year 2 at the bargaining table, no deal has been struck.

None of which makes Rahm happy, even if he personally has nothing to worry about. Reports had him banking some $500 million for taking his talents to LIV.

Still, he said he’d like to see the negotiations press on.

“Because everybody is going to have a different idea, and I think everybody’s going to have to give something back or have some compromises to make that work,” he said.

Despite Rahm’s move, the DP Tour, which runs pro golf in Europe, recently made clear that he and others on LIV would be eligible to play in next year’s Ryder Cup, as long as they pay fines, serve bans and play at least four events a year. Rahm says he intends to do all that, working his schedule around his wife’s due date later this year.

The Ryder Cup news is a glimmer of hope for the reconciliation of the golf tours. Rahm knows the bigger picture will be more difficult, but he feels it’s worth the work.

“I think we have a position to set up golf in a very positive way for decades to come,” he said. “You need the people that do this for a living that are far smarter than I am to come together to be able to make it work.”


Rory McIlroy won the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday in what became a pleasant afternoon stroll. His 7-stroke lead was so comfortable that when he hit a ball in the water on the final hole, McIlroy still had a big grin on his face. Had he played the last few holes while signing autographs and kissing babies, it would’ve fit the general mood.

Beating his rivals on the course? Easy. But battling them amid golf’s ongoing civil war? That is proving much harder.

McIlroy has become a curious bellwether for golf’s attempts to find peace in our time. He was among the most outspoken defenders of the PGA TOUR once LIV Golf started luring players away with giant purses and absurd signing bonuses, then was understandably taken aback when the TOUR and LIV announced a shotgun marriage of sorts last June. The Northern Irishman later resigned from the PGA TOUR’s policy board after losing a power struggle with his peers. He recently appeared ready to return to that role – with the TOUR and LIV’s Saudi benefactors still yet to formalize their partnership – only to back out again, saying those same peers didn’t want him back.

Jimmy Dunne – one of the original architects of the PGA-LIV armistice and a friend of Rory’s – also resigned from the TOUR’s policy board this week, saying that “no meaningful progress” had been made in the 11 months since the original light-on-details deal.

As players from both tours converge at the PGA Championship in Kentucky this week, that suggests golf’s great divide will continue for some time yet, causing more damage to a sport that’s been harmed by the split.

The big question, amid a clash of egos and the division of billions of dollars, is whether the harm can be repaired.

McIlroy’s win at the Wells Fargo on the weekend must’ve come as blessed relief to TOUR executives amid a sharp drop in television ratings this season. Early numbers suggest that viewership of the tournament in North Carolina was up slightly over last year, which is significant in context. A week earlier, Canadian Taylor Pendrith’s win at the Byron Nelson was accompanied by a 24% drop in the U.S. audience from a year earlier. That continued a season-long trend in which viewership was off by as much as a third at some TOUR stops from a year ago. Ratings at The Masters, which Scottie Scheffler won at a canter, were down about 23% from 2023.

But if PGA TOUR ratings have dropped precipitously, their numbers remain beyond the most fevered imaginations of LIV frontman Greg Norman and his Saudi allies.

LIV’s last event, which Brooks Koepka won two weeks ago, had a U.S. audience that was about a tenth of the PGA TOUR’s on the same day. LIV, despite a shotgun-start format that’s supposed to be engineered for television viewing, was beaten comfortably in the ratings by NASCAR, the UFL, the NWSL, college softball, beach volleyball, bowling, supercross, and a Spanish-language Premier League broadcast.

LIV, for all of its flash and wealth, continues to follow the path of breakaway leagues in other sports, which have struggled time and again to get people to care about a new product for which there was no obvious demand.

The PGA TOUR’s struggles are a little harder to explain. The LIV defections have robbed it of some star power, and indeed, the roster of TOUR winners in the early part of 2024 included several who-dats: Matthieu Pavon, Grayson Murray, Jake Knapp, and Nick Dunlap, who wasn’t even a pro at the time. But Scheffler is a star, even if a rather vanilla one, and his multiple wins this season haven’t attracted big audiences.

There is a theory that some golf fans, put off by two-plus years of squabbling between a wealthy bunch of golfers and an even wealthier bunch of golfers, are no longer interested in watching either.

If so, the present bun fight won’t help. A group of American sports owners pledged $1.5 billion to fund the TOUR’s new for-profit entity in January, and so far, the players on the policy board can’t even decide how to divide the spoils. McIlroy reportedly favors a wide disbursement among TOUR members, while policy-board members led by Tiger Woods and Patrick Cantlay prefer to see a larger share go to high-profile players who turned down lucrative offers to flee to LIV. Some of that same group is said to be resistant to welcoming LIV defectors who took massive Saudi paydays back to share in the TOUR’s newfound U.S.-based wealth, while McIlroy was pushing for a solution that would put both camps back in more tournament fields.

But if the isolationists have won the day, that’d suggest compromise on the LIV-PGA impasse has become less likely in the short term. And the sport’s divergence, with weakened fields competing against each other for a declining golf viewership, will continue that much longer.

At least McIlroy can go back to trying to beat guys like Cantlay and Woods on the course this week. He seems better at that part lately.


Rory McIlroy has filed for divorce from Erica Stoll, his wife of seven years.

McIlroy, 35, is preparing to play in the opening round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., on Thursday. The divorce petition was filed on Monday on McIlroy’s behalf in Florida.

That was the day after McIlroy shot a 65 in the final round to win the Wells Fargo Championship at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. — one of his two tour wins this season.

“Rory McIlroy’s communications team confirmed today that a divorce has been filed,” McIlroy’s manager, Sean O’Flaherty, said in the statement. “They stressed Rory’s desire to ensure this difficult time is as respectful and amicable as possible. He will not be making any further comment.”

The golfer and Stoll met at the Ryder Cup in 2012. As he has relayed the story, McIlroy overslept, and Stoll was the PGA of America staff member who helped him get to Medinah Country Club in Illinois in time to tee off.

In a relationship with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki at the time, McIlroy didn’t begin dating Stoll until 2014.

They married in April 2017 at a star-studded ceremony in Ireland and had a daughter, Poppy, on Aug. 31, 2020, in Jupiter, Fla.

Stoll is a native of New York, and she routinely has cheered for McIlroy on the course and also served as his caddy at the 2023 Masters Par 3 contest.

Reports did not state whether McIlroy’s filing indicated a reason for the divorce or any child custody requests.


Pairings for the first and second rounds of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., include back-to-back groupings featuring Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who are among past Wanamaker Trophy winners on this course.

Woods’ group hits the first tee box, starting at No. 10, at 8:04 a.m. EDT Thursday and will tail a group that includes Justin Thomas. McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose will follow the Woods trio at 8:15 a.m.

Defending PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka anchors a marquee grouping with Max Homa and Jordan Spieth. They’ll open on the back nine at 8:37 a.m. EDT on Thursday.

Woods, who posted a playoff win over Bob May to win the 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla, is joined for the first two rounds by playing partners Adam Scott and Keegan Bradley.

World No. 1 and Masters champion Scottie Scheffler starts at hole No. 1 on Thursday with a scheduled tee time of 2:13 p.m. in a pairing with Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman. The trio immediately follows Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Cameron Young.

McIlroy claimed a one-shot victory in 2014 at Valhalla, outlasting Phil Mickelson.

The full list of tee times and groupings for the first round Thursday:

Starting at No. 1
7:15 a.m. — Michael Block, Luke Donald, Shaun Micheel
7:26 a.m. — Jeff Kellen, Alex Smalley, Ben Kohles
7:37 a.m. — Ryan Fox, Josh Speight, Matt Wallace
7:48 a.m. — Zac Oakley, Adam Svensson, Ryo Hisatsune
7:59 a.m. — Adam Hadwin, Martin Kaymer, Taylor Pendrith
8:10 a.m. — Byeong Hun An, Alexander Bjork, Eric Cole
8:21 a.m. — Adam Schenk, Corey Conners, Nick Dunlap
8:32 a.m. — John Daly, Lee Hodges, Robert MacIntyre
8:43 a.m. — Peter Malnati, Kurt Kitayama, Victor Perez
8:54 a.m. — Benn Polland, Zac Blair, Ryan van Valezen
9:05 a.m. — Jeremy Wells, Sami Valimaki, K.H. Lee
9:16 a.m. — Jared Jones, Taylor Moore, Patrick Rodgers
9:27 a.m. — Kyle Mendoza, Andy Ogletree, Erik van Rooyen
12:45 p.m. — David Puig, Thirston Lawrence, Matt Dobyns
12:56 p.m. — Tracy Phillips, Denny McCarthy, Keita Nakajima
1:07 p.m. — Talor Gooch, Cameron Davis, Harris English
1:18 p.m. — Jason Day, Shane Lowry, Nicolai Hojgaard
1:29 p.m. — Min Woo Lee, Chris Kirk, Billy Horschel
1:40 p.m. — Gary Woodland, Tom Kim, Joaquin Niemann
1:51 p.m. — Collin Morikawa, Phil Mickelson, Matthew Fitzpatrick
2:02 p.m. — Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm, Cameron Young
2:13 p.m. — Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Scottie Scheffler
2:24 p.m. — Patrick Cantlay, Camilo Villegas, Will Zalatoris
2:35 p.m. — Patrick Reed, Sam Burns, Padraig Harrington
2:46 p.m. — Brad Marek, Mark Hubbard, Maverick McNealy
2:57 p.m. — Braden Shattuck, S.H. Kim, C.T. Pan

Tee times starting at No. 10
7:20 a.m. — Doug Ghim, Tyler Collet, Adrian Meronk
7:31 a.m. — Larkin Gross, Lucas Herbert, Grayson Murray
7:42 a.m. — Lucas Glover, Stephan Jaeger, Russell Henley
7:53 a.m. — Ludvig Aberg, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas
8:04 a.m. — Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley
8:15 a.m. — Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose
8:26 a.m. — Cameron Smith, Hideki Matsuyama, Viktor Hovland
8:37 a.m. — Brooks Koepka, Max Homa, Jordan Spieth
8:48 a.m. — Tony Finau, Tyrrell Hatton, Sahith Theegala
8:59 a.m. — Akshay Bhatia, Tommy Fleetwood, Bryson DeChambeau
9:10 a.m. — Sepp Straka, Takumi Kanaya, Nick Taylor
9:21 a.m. — Andy Svoboda, Ben Griffin, Dean Burmester
9:32 a.m. — Preston Cole, Tim Widing, Adrian Otaegui
12:40 p.m. — Rich Beem, Sebastian Soderberg, Kazuma Kobori
12:51 p.m. — Josh Bevell, Aaron Rai, Jordan Smith
1:02 p.m. — Andrew Putnam, Jesse Mueller, Charley Hoffman
1:13 p.m. — Si Woo Kim, Tom Hoge, Alex Noren
1:24 p.m. — Y.E. Yang, Matthieu Pavon, J.T. Poston
1:35 p.m. — Jake Knapp, Jason Dufner, Francesco Molinari
1:46 p.m. — Thomas Detry, Jimmy Walker, Rasmus Hojgaard
1:57 p.m. — Austin Eckroat, Luke List, Mackenzie Hughes
2:08 p.m. — Sungjae Im, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Beau Hossler
2:19 p.m. — Thorbjorn Olesen, Brendon Todd, Keith Mitchell
2:30 p.m. — John Somers, Brice Garnett, Jesper Svensson
2:41 p.m. — Emiliano Grillo, Evan Bowser, Alejandro Tosti
2:52 p.m. — Vincent Norrman, Wyatt Worthington II, Chris Gotterup