When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his Legio XIII and uttered “alea iacta est” – the die is cast – more than just idioms were enshrined. Caesar’s “point of no return” initiated civil war that reshaped the world.
Jon Rahm’s choice of “Legion XIII” as the nickname for his as-yet-completed 13th LIV Golf team speaks volumes – both to Rahm’s intelligence and to his understanding of what his defection to the breakaway league means to professional golf.
Rahm’s crossing-the-Rubicon moment came in December when he donned a black LIV letter jacket and uttered the meaningless modern jargon phrase “grow the game.” It’s no Caesar three-word salad that will live on for centuries after all of us are gone, but Rahm’s about-face from the PGA Tour that made him a superstar will reshape the landscape of the modern competitive game. I guess some might call that “growing the game.”
Rahm knew what he was doing when he named LIV’s 13th team Legion XIII. It’s perhaps the most clever thing about the Saudi Arabian circuit.
Caesar’s “Legion 13” was integral in the Gallic Wars. When they ended about 50 years B.C., the Roman Senate demanded Caesar leave his command and return to Rome. With the choice of ending his political career or civil war, Caesar chose the latter. His Legio XIII crossed the river that served as the de facto border between Gaul and Italy and set the course for becoming dictator. It was a short-lived but significant reign.
Rahm’s about-face from the PGA Tour that made him a superstar will reshape the landscape of the modern competitive game.
Rahm probably doesn’t have his sights set on becoming the dictator of professional golf, but his move against the established powers (“Et tu, Jon?”) might be what dictates the direction that the game takes at the highest level by forcing an alignment with LIV and its Saudi financiers.
Rahm burned his bridges when he cast his lot with LIV, and for survival the tours will have to rebuild bridges across the proverbial Rubicon that divides the marquee players in the world.
Money is the coin of the realm now in golf. With the establishment of Legion XIII as the latest volley in pro golf’s civil war, the tours likely will have to render to Rahm the things that are Rahm’s, and to golf the things that are golf’s.
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