RAHM AND HATTON SPEAK TO THE MEDIA AHEAD OF LIV OPENER
Q. Jon, how does it feel to be the captain of a team, and tell us a little bit about how you picked this amazing team
JON RAHM: It’s definitely a different feel to what I’m used to, golf being quite an individual sport. To actually be thinking about part of management of any kind, it’s somewhat unusual for me.
But the process was a little bit harder than what we would have liked to acquire all the players. Obviously Kieran being one of the qualifiers, I was up watching the back nine and saw his performance, and I was quite impressed. Too bad for him that he had to hit 5-wood on the par-5 off the tee. It probably would have been a lot easier in that playoff.
Caleb, obviously for people that follow amateur golf, he’s a very accomplished amateur golfer. We played a practice round together last year, actually, on Wednesday of the American Express, so I knew of him enough to know how good it was and what he was capable of. Then that year he went on to win SEC Championships, one of the top ranked amateurs in the world, Walker Cup player, performed great in the Walker Cup. His amateur resume speaks for its own.
He seemed ready to turn pro, so when he approached us with it, I’m not going to shy away from somebody who’s ready to make that transition. I’m very happy to have him on the team.
Then Tyrrell is somebody I respect a lot. He’s a really good friend of mine. We’ve shared the stage in some of the biggest events in the world and more recently in the Ryder Cup. Proud to say we’re undefeated together. It’s somebody that’s always been very high on my list. I think it’s somebody who can perform under any circumstances.
I think the two of us understand each other very well for some various obvious reasons we’re probably not going to get into, but I see a lot of myself in him, as well, so that’s probably why I feel such a good connection with him on the team.
I’m very happy he accepted the offer and is now a part of it.
Q.Tyrrell, obviously today is your very first day at LIV Golf, so welcome. I imagine it’s been a bit of a whirlwind for you. How are you feeling?
TYRRELL HATTON: Yeah, it has that feel of like first day at school. Kind of feel like I’m finding my feet a little bit. That’ll take a bit of time. But excited to be here and looking forward to getting started on Friday.
Q.Jon, just curious what your approach to being a captain will be like. Obviously there’s a bunch of different approaches out here. Do you have something in mind right now, or is it going to be kind of learn-on-the-go type process?
JON RAHM: I think a good captain can adapt to each player. I don’t think there’s one single formula that will work for everybody. I know what might work to get the best out of me might not work for Kieran or Tyrrell or Caleb. I’m going to have to get to know everybody a little bit better to be able to know what buttons to push definitely at what times.
I’m pretty confident I know how to do that with Tyrrell already. We’ve spent a lot of time together. I already know.
But with Caleb and Kieran, I’m going to have to learn a little bit on how they are in general, how to manage that.
To answer that, no, I don’t really know exactly what I’m going to be doing, but again, like I said earlier, I’m really looking forward to learning.
Q.Jon, can you describe what the last couple of months have been like? Obviously it was quite the big move that you’ve made. It got a lot of attention back in early December. And just the time since, whatever feedback you’ve gotten in making this move.
JON RAHM: Well, the weeks leading up to the announcement weren’t the easiest. I had to weigh a lot, basically get enough info to then make an informed decision. Even through the process of negotiations, it was just very, very deep waters compared to what I’m used to. I had to be more involved than I thought I was going to have to be. But once the announcement was made, I think everything became a lot easier.
Having to keep the secrecy and not being able to talk to anybody about it was difficult. Again, once it became public, the reaction was pretty much what I expected. The ones that are close friends that maybe had an idea or not have supported me, and obviously there’s some people that are going to disagree with any decision we make in life. Pretty much in line with what I expected, but it was nice to have some time after that before my first competition round in LIV Golf to process and then actually kind of refocus and get to work.
Q.Where is your game right now? How do you feel about it for the first event of the year?
JON RAHM: I feel good. I feel good. It’s one of the odd parts. At this point I would have maybe already played three, four events, so it’s getting used to that. I’m very used to having to grind a little bit more during Christmas and early in the year to start competing. I feel confident. I’m always — every time I tee it up, my goal is to win.
No matter what shape my game is in, that’s pretty much the goal. There’s been times where on a Tuesday maybe it felt pretty bad and ended up performing great, so it really doesn’t matter what it feels like today.
Q.For Tyrrell, you had a pretty funny media exchange at the Ryder Cup about your proclivity for swearing and how much you embrace it. I wondered, out here, I don’t know that they fine for that. Could this possibly mean that there might be more?
JON RAHM: Hold on, do they, because we’re both in trouble.
TYRRELL HATTON: Yeah, I think me and Jon could have been in trouble, but I think we’ll be okay.
JON RAHM: We would have definitely been in trouble before. At least I have.
TYRRELL HATTON: It’s fine.
Q.Jon and Tyrrell, I’m curious if you guys were able to — you heard what Rory McIlroy had to say about players being involved in the Ryder Cup and yesterday when he said they should be able to come back and play on the Tour without any issues if they have membership. I’m curious what your reaction to that is.
TYRRELL HATTON: Well, I’ve spoken to Rory a bit in the past week and back in December. That’s kind of along the lines of what he said to me. It’s not a surprise to hear him say that in the media.
Ultimately, I would like to still be able to play events on the other two tours. But we’ll see how all that works out.
JON RAHM: I would pretty much say the same along the lines of what Tyrrell said. I haven’t spoken to him a lot recently. But he might have had a change in thought process, as in maybe with some of the things he said in the past. I think he might be seeing that the landscape of golf is changing and at some point you need to evolve. So I think he might be seeing that, and everybody is entitled to their opinion, but it’s nice to have the support from a player the caliber of Rory, especially those Ryder Cup remarks he made early on. I think that’s an important statement for change to be said.
Q.The early news of the day was the PGA Tour and the Strategic Sports Group coming together and creating the PGA TOUR Tour enterprises, the deal coming closer. They said the conversations with the PIF are still ongoing, as well. I’m curious what your confidence level is like that a deal is going to get done, and have you thought a lot about that over the last few weeks?
JON RAHM: We’ve had enough to think about. I was worried about maybe not having Tyrrell here this week. Yeah, that was really in the back of my mind, like really far back in my mind.
There’s a lot bigger people that are a lot smarter than me that are going to be worrying about that that actually have a say in it, and they should be thinking about it. I think we’re here to play golf, perform, and whatever comes comes.
TYRRELL HATTON: I’m not actually up to speed yet for all the guys on all the teams, but ultimately we’re just be going out there, trying our best like we do every other week, and I mean, with it being the first week back for a lot of guys, there’s potentially going to be a little bit of rust there. Having said that, if I go out and play a bad round of golf on Friday, I don’t really have much excuse.
Either way, we’ll be trying our best, and hopefully we’ll be one of the teams at the top.
JON RAHM: Yeah, obviously we’d all like to think that we have the team to beat. Based on past performances — there’s been trades, so a lot of times it’s hard to see. Anybody has a chance any give week, but obviously defending champions, Crushers, both the League and here. 4Aces are always a strong team. With Talor Gooch now on the team, Smash is always going to be — two great players with him and Brooks, definitely a chance; Torque, great last year, as well.
I’d say those four teams so far are the quickest ones that come to me that obviously have been playing really good golf.
Fireballs, as well, now with Pooch in it, played quite a bit of golf back home with him since we both live in Arizona, and he can easily take it deep on the golf course. They definitely have the firepower, as well. I could name every single team.
Q.You’re going to start a rivalry between Legion and somebody?
JON RAHM: I’ll leave it up to you guys. Everybody here writing are good at creating those rivalries. We’re going to leave it up to them.
Q.We haven’t really talked about the brand we unveiled, the Legion XIII brand yesterday. Do you want to talk a little bit about how you came to the name and the logo and how the other guys feel about wearing the lion patch.
JON RAHM: Yeah, they really haven’t told me yet, so I don’t know. It’s a bit of a long story how we came up with it.
I’ll try to sum it up a little bit.
TYRRELL HATTON: You can shorten it.
JON RAHM: I don’t want to leave anything out. Basically, especially after the Ryder Cup and being in Rome, the whole gladiator theme was really appealing to me. Gladiator, warrior spirit was something that meant fight, kind of a team fighting together, and a couple names came up, and at some point somebody said Legion XIII, that we were going to be the 13th team, and me and my wife and a couple other people kind of looked at each other like, it has a better ring than other things.
Then when you get into the legion and what it means in itself, I thought it was an empowering name, and then basically two things as to why I found it so good. There’s a comic book I grew up reading as a kid. Surprising, right? It’s named Asterix and Obelisk. I don’t know if anybody knows what it is. But it’s a town somewhere in Europe that the Romans couldn’t conquer because they had a wizard that had a magic potion, and the legion in charge of trying to conquer that town over and over again is Legion XIII, which was also a real legion that was always faithful to Julius Caesar, both when he was, I believe, the consul for the republic and then as an emperor, as well, kind of helped him get back to Rome and not take over, but yeah, kind of take over. There was a lot of storylines throughout it, and that’s why we liked it so much.