Golf-LIV’s Rahm not yet sure how to address Masters Champions Dinner

By Thomson Reuters Mar 19, 2024 | 1:53 PM

By Frank Pingue

(Reuters) – Jon Rahm may be known for his composure under pressure but the Spaniard who joined LIV Golf eight months after his 2023 Masters triumph acknowledged on Tuesday feeling nervous about the speech he will give during next month’s Champions Dinner.

As is tradition, the reigning Masters champion delivers a speech during an exclusive dinner reserved for past winners of the major and held inside Augusta National’s clubhouse on the Tuesday evening of the tournament week.

Rahm, who overcame a two-shot deficit in the final round of the 2023 Masters to capture the biggest win of his career and in December accepted a reported $300 million to join LIV Golf, understands the magnitude of the occasion.

“When I tell you that this has definitely been rent free in my head — I usually have no issues public speaking. No problem. I’ll get up there and talk about anything,” Rahm told reporters during a video call organised by Augusta National Golf Club.

“Just the image of standing up and having everybody in that room look at me and having to speak to all these great champions, it’s quite daunting.”

While Rahm did reveal his menu choices for the Champions Dinner — a Spanish feast that will include “Mama Rahm’s Classic Lentil Stew” — the twice major winner has not yet planned what his speech will be about.

“I think I’m just going to speak from the heart, and that’s usually what delivers the better speech. It’s definitely not going to be prepared,” said Rahm.

“I don’t know exactly what I’m going to say, but hopefully one or two glasses of wine help me get a little bit more fluid in that speech.”

At the April 11-14 Masters, Rahm will try to become only the fourth player to retain a Masters title and the first since Tiger Woods accomplished the feat in 2001-02.

Rahm has recorded top-10 finishes in his four LIV Golf starts this year and while he is feeling good about his game he is just as eager to test it against all the top players.

“So far, it’s been great. Been playing good golf,” said Rahm, who plans to visit Augusta National next week and familiarise himself again with the pristine layout.

“But I’m definitely looking forward to joining with the rest of the best golfers in the world and teeing it up at the Masters with them.”

His decision to join LIV Golf meant Rahm missed out on title defences this year at three PGA Tour events — The Sentry Tournament of Champions, American Express and Genesis Invitational.

“I’m not going to lie; for everybody who said this would be easy, some things have been, but not being able to defend some titles that mean a lot to me hasn’t,” said Rahm.

“It’s done. It’s past. It’s a decision I made, and I’m comfortable with it. But I’m hoping I can come back, and hopefully I can actually (successfully) defend (the Masters title next month) as well. That would be a dream come true.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by)