Tyrrell Hatton signs £50m deal to defect to LIV Golf


Tyrrell Hatton swinging a club - Tyrrell Hatton signs £50m deal to defect to LIV Golf

It is uncertain whether Hatton will be permitted to continue playing in the Ryder Cup – Getty Images/David Cannon

Tyrrell Hatton is joining LIV Golf in a deal worth up to £50 million and will make his debut in Mexico this week.

The 32-year-old will become part of the new team of Ryder Cup partner Jon Rahm and will play in the Saudi-funded league’s season opener which starts on Friday. The world No 16 will withdraw from the AT&T Championship at Pebble Beach, the PGA Tour event where he was entered to play.

The news, coming after Rahm’s £450 million move last month, will undoubtedly come as a huge concern to Luke Donald. The Europe Ryder Cup captain will believe that, if his team is to have any chance in New York next year, the regulations will have to be changed to make it possible for LIV players to appear in the blue and gold.

Hatton will almost certainly not give up his DP World Tour card and because of that will remain technically eligible. But if the rules and punishments stay the same, he will receive a ban and a fine each time he plays on the breakaway circuit, which will make it nigh on impossible to fulfil the minimum membership requirement of four regular events.

Hatton, just like Rahm, would thus lose out on his playing privileges for 2025 and would ultimately not be available to Donald. The pair formed an impressive pairing in the victory against the USA in Rome four months ago and spoke of how comfortable they felt in the partnership. They are both fiery characters whose on-course tantrums amuse as many as they offend. ‘Team Angry’, as they were billed in the Italian capital, will now be able to play in the same colours at least 14 times a season.

Of course, all this could change if the current merger negotiations of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour with the Public Investment Fund – the £700 billion Saudi sovereign treasure trove which bankrolls LIV – are successful. A deal would involve a route back to the Tours for the LIV rebels, and presumably vice versa.

Hatton must be counting on this happening. Sources indicate that his Ryder Cup future and his continued participation in the majors were Hatton’s main concerns as he waited until the 11th hour to commit. He rejected the first offer made last month, but Telegraph Sport understands that he spoke to Rahm on the phone and then received an improved offer in the last few weeks.

Hatton has career earnings of more than £20 million, having won six times on the DP World Tour and once in America. Yet despite a fine 2023, in which he racked up four top-threes – including second at The Players Championship – he has not lifted an individual title for three years.

At 16th in the world Hatton is the best-ranked Briton to jump ship to LIV (Paul Casey was 27th when he linked up with Greg Norman’s enterprise, while Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Richard Bland, Sam Horsfield and Graeme McDowell were all outside the top 50).

But he knows that if the status quo endures, he could tumble so quickly down the rankings that he would be in the major wilderness for 2025, having no route to the Masters and having to go through qualifying for the Open and US Open. In contrast, because of last year’s Masters victory, Rahm is assured of berths in all four majors until 2027. And, by then, there will surely be some sort of resolution.

Hatton was expected to appear in Thursday’s first round at Pebble Beach in the $20 million AT&T but will withdraw and LIV will probably unveil him on Wednesday in Mayakoba. Another European in Adrian Meronk is also set to be introduced as the close season’s other notable capture. The Pole, ranked 39th in the world, is joining Martin Kaymer’s team, having most recently finished second to Rory McIlroy at last Sunday’s Dubai Desert Classic.

LIV will be pleased with their acquisitions since their 2023 campaign wrapped up in Miami three months ago. Because of the ongoing talks between the respective parties, the poaching of Rahm caused mayhem in the corridors of powers and highlighted how vital it is for the Tours to reach a deal with LIV.

After this opener at the El Camaleon Golf Club, 30 minutes west of Cancun, LIV will play the week after at the Las Vegas Country Club, employing a Saturday finish to avoid a clash with the Super Bowl that takes place in Sin City on the Sunday.

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