Golf-Rahm no fan of proposed rule change that would reduce distance

Mar 3, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; Jon Rahm hits his drive on the 18th hole during the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - A rule proposal by golf's governing bodies that would limit the distance balls can travel in professional tournaments would only serve to hurt the players who hit it shorter off the tee, world number two Jon Rahm said on Tuesday.

The proposal made last week by the Royal and Ancient and United States Golf Association would give competition organisers the option to require players to use only balls that meet maximum-distance criteria.

But Rahm, speaking to reporters ahead of this week's World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play event in Austin, Texas, questioned why the sport's ruling bodies would even want to propose a rule that would reduce driving distance.

"My biggest question for them would be we're in a golden era of golf where it's exploded since COVID, a lot of people are watching, you have a completely different tour, all these things are happening for the game and it's growing," said Rahm. "Why change what's working?"

Rahm, who has already won three PGA Tour titles this year, feels there are other options that could be considered to make courses more difficult for the current crop of players that do not involve changing technology.

The Spaniard even pointed at courses like Innisbrook, Valderrama, Colonial and Hilton Head as layouts that are not long but, barring benign weather conditions, generally hold their own against today's big hitters.

Either way, Rahm, who is one of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour with an average driving distance of 314 yards this season, is not too bothered as he does not feel the proposed rule would have much of an impact on him.

"They're hyper focused on making professional golf a little bit more difficult than it already is. I don't know why. Do I think it's the right choice? As it comes to me, I don't think it's going to matter that much," said Rahm.

"It's going to be more damaging to the shorter hitters on Tour than it is for people that have distance, because if you're giving me a 7-iron as opposed to a 9- or an 8-iron, that means you're giving somebody a 4- or 5- as opposed to a 7- or a 6.

"I'm still going to be able to stop it in most places with a 7-iron when some people might not."

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)

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