Rodgers and Martin move into joint RSM Classic lead, Svensson surges with 62

By Sports Desk November 19, 2022

Patrick Rodgers and Ben Martin produced excellent third rounds to share the lead heading to the final day of the RSM Classic at St Simons Island in Georgia.

Rodgers and Martin carded rounds of 64 and 65 respectively as the tournament moved entirely to the par-70 Seaside Course, having been split between that and the par-72 Plantation Course on the opening two days.

After a bogey on the second hole on Saturday, Rodgers made seven birdies, including four in a row from the 13th to the 16th holes to move 14 places up a busy leaderboard from his starting position.

Rodgers, 30, has yet to claim a PGA Tour-level title and lost in a play-off on the second hole in the 2018 RSM Classic to Charles Howell III.

Martin, whose last and only PGA Tour title was in 2014, would have had the solo lead but bogeyed the par-four 18th hole, blemishing his six-birdie round which was bogey-free until that point.

The American pair of Rodgers and Martin reached 14 under overall, to lead by one from three players including Canadian Adam Svensson, who began at the 10th and enjoyed the round of the day, carding an eight-under 62 with six birdies on his back nine and an eagle on the par-five 15th hole.

Andrew Putnam, who had been in a three-way joint lead at the halfway mark, also stood at 13 under with Svensson and Sahith Theegala.

Seven players were a further stroke back at 12 under, including Brian Harman, Taylor Montgomery and Harry Higgs, the latter who had been alongside Putnam in the lead after two days and rallied during his third round after three bogeys in his opening five holes.

The other halfway leader, Cole Hammer, dropped down the leaderboard to a tie for 17th after a two-over 72 that included bogeys on the third and fourth holes, along with a double bogey on the fifth.

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    The world number three’s decision to join the Saudi-funded breakaway represents a huge U-turn and deepens the divisions in the men’s professional game.

    Here, the PA news agency looks at the background to the move and what could happen next?

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    While players like Rory McIlroy openly voiced their opposition, Rahm was always more measured in his comments, making it clear he felt LIV players should be allowed to play in this year’s Ryder Cup and saying he did not blame two young compatriots David Puig and Eugenio Chacarra for cutting short their college careers to take the money on offer. However, he did pledge his loyalty to the PGA Tour in February last year, criticised LIV’s 54-hole, no-cut format and insisted he played golf to make history, not money.

    So what changed?

    The Framework Agreement between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which bankrolls LIV, appears to have been the catalyst. All the players were blindsided by the sudden announcement of a potential peace deal on June 6, with Rahm revealing he was making breakfast when he heard the news and feared his phone was “going to catch fire” as texts and calls streamed in. A week later at the US Open, Rahm described it as a “bombshell” and admitted many players felt a “bit of betrayal from management”. That no doubt caught the attention of those in charge of LIV, who eventually made Rahm an offer that he felt he could not turn down, even if it meant risking his Ryder Cup future.

    What is the situation with the Ryder Cup?

    As long as he remains a DP World Tour member by playing in at least four regular events a season, Rahm will be eligible to try to qualify for the Ryder Cup or receive a wild card from captain Luke Donald. However, he will face fines and suspensions for playing in LIV tournaments without the required “conflicting event” releases from the DP World Tour. McIlroy has already stressed the need for Rahm to be on the team which will try to retain the trophy at Bethpage Black in 2025, leaving the DP World Tour in a potentially awkward position.

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    Of course there remains the possibility that the Framework Agreement leads to a definitive deal between the rival factions and that players will be free to compete wherever they wish. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and PIF chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan are due to meet shortly in pursuit of a deal before the deadline of December 31, which can be extended. However, if either party walks away, with private equity potentially offering the PGA Tour alternative funding sources, the game could be split once again and face years of further acrimony and upheaval.

  • Rory McIlroy expects Ryder Cup changes after Jon Rahm’s LIV switch Rory McIlroy expects Ryder Cup changes after Jon Rahm’s LIV switch

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    He will also earn points towards qualification through major championships, but faces fines and suspensions for playing in LIV tournaments without the required “conflicting event” releases from the DP World Tour.

    In April this year, an arbitration panel ruled that the Tour had the right to sanction players for such “serious breaches” of its code of behaviour, a case sparked by 12 players appealing against fines of £100,000 and suspension from the Scottish Open for playing LIV’s inaugural event in June 2022.

    It is understood that fines and suspensions are assessed on a case-by-case basis, with former LIV player Bernd Wiesberger currently serving a ban after paying all of his fines in order to regain his DP World Tour membership for the new season.

    Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood resigned their memberships in the wake of the arbitration panel’s decision, while Henrik Stenson was sacked as Ryder Cup captain after joining the Saudi-funded breakaway.

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    The 29-year-old becomes the second current major champion on the LIV circuit after US PGA champion Brooks Koepka.

    In a conference call on Thursday, Rahm looked to explain the reasons behind a decision which is set to again cause controversy within the sport.

    “Every decision I feel like we make in life there will be somebody who agrees and likes it and somebody who doesn’t, right,” Rahm said.

    “I made this decision because I believe it’s the best for me and my family and everybody I’ve been able to talk to has been really supportive of me, so I’m very comfortable with my decision.

    “I’m no stranger to hearing some negative things on social media or in media. It’s part of what it is, we’re public figures but you just learn to deal with it right? This certainly won’t define who I am or change who I am.”

    Following confirmation of his switch to LIV, Rahm added in an official press release statement: “I am proud to join LIV Golf and be part of something new that is bringing growth to the sport.

    “I have no doubt that this is a great opportunity for me and my family and am very excited for the future.”

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    Former LIV player Bernd Wiesberger recently rejoined the DP World Tour, but only after paying hefty fines and serving a lengthy suspension.

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    “It’s a big risk to take, but I’ve had it in consideration and again, I’m hopeful that I can be part of the team again.”

    Rahm expressed his “fealty” to the PGA Tour in February 2022 and, in September that year, rubbished rumours that he would jump ship in reply to a post on Twitter which claimed he was about to sign for LIV.

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    Speaking ahead of the 2022 US Open at Brookline, the week after LIV had staged its first event, Rahm also said the 54-hole format held no appeal and hinted that he had turned down an offer of 400million US dollars (£315m) to switch circuits.

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