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Jon Rahm fails to live up to his final-day billing as Joaquin Niemann tears up LIV Golf’s season-opening script… but the Masters champion can take some consolation in Legion XIII’s debut win

The final round of LIV Golf Mayakoba was all about the blockbuster for which the breakout spent $500 million. Too bad Jon Rahm couldn’t quite live up to the billing.

Just two rounds into his Rebels career, Rahm looked ready to make an immediate return on his price tag as he cruised to his first LIV championship on Sunday in a group that would have had Greg Norman licking his lips.

The night’s leader, Joaquin Niemann, was assessed a two-shot penalty to close the gap between him and Rahm from four shots to two and put LIV’s $500 million man on the hunt.

It provided the breakout Sunday storyline that ultimately made for intriguing ratings, especially considering the PGA Tour’s lack of competition following the postponement of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

And LIV still got a show, but instead of a Rahm fairytale ending in 2024, it was Sergio Garcia and Niemann starring.

The final round of Jon Rahm’s LIV Golf debut didn’t quite live up to expectations on Sunday

Instead, it was Joaquin Niemann who emerged victorious with the individual title

Instead, it was Joaquin Niemann who emerged victorious with the individual title

Sergio Garcia tore up the script, narrowly losing to Niemann in a four-hole playoff in Mexico

Sergio Garcia tore up the script, narrowly losing to Niemann in a four-hole playoff in Mexico

The pair, who topped the leaderboard at 12 under, delivered a thrilling play-off under the Mexican sunset as they dueled each other over four grueling holes.

Garcia and Niemann balanced each other shot for shot – the Chilean was lucky to still be in it after the first play-off hole after a helping hand from a tree to keep his tee shot contained.

But in the end, with the 18th green barely lit by just the giant screen that LIV announced as “golf but louder,” it was Niemann who emerged victorious, going wire-to-wire after an opening 59 on Friday.

“I got a two-shot penalty on Sunday morning, which was a little hard to swallow at first, but then I knew I had to change the situation and not let the situation beat me,” Niemann said after his victory. .

“I think it gave me more energy to go out there and fight and prove to myself that it’s not going to bother me. I’m quite happy that the day ended the way it did, especially how the morning started. I think dinner will taste a little better than breakfast.”

It was a playoff that Rahm could have easily headlined. He tried it in defense. In fact, he tried to the bitter end, but an errant tee shot on 17 cost him a penalty shot and ultimately a shot at the individual title.

Bogeys on 17 and 18 saw him finish at 10 under, two shots behind Garcia and Niemann.

Although he was no longer LIV’s lead, Rahm did fill the role of Best Supporting Actor.

When asked Saturday, Rahm told him to come back and ask him again how it would feel to get a team win in his LIV Golf debut. After his last round he was finally able to give an answer.

Niemann and Garcia played a thrilling play-off under the Mexican sunset as they dueled

Niemann and Garcia played a thrilling play-off under the Mexican sunset as they dueled

The 18th green was barely lit by just the giant screen on the final hole of the play-off

The 18th green was barely lit by just the giant screen on the final hole of the play-off

LIV could take some solace in the fact that Rahm's Legion XIII won the team title

LIV could take some solace in the fact that Rahm’s Legion XIII won the team title

Legion XIII ripped away with the team victory just days after being put together thanks to Tyrrell Hatton finally finding his feet.

As Rahm tried to make a chase to catch Niemann at the top, his teammate Hatton made a charge of his own.

LIV’s new team format was introduced on Sunday, where all four scores count and Hatton did not let his teammates down.

The Englishman had failed to set the Rebels circuit ablaze in the first two rounds of his debut heading into the final day, but on Sunday, when it really mattered, he did not disappoint.

The world number 16 rounded El Camaleon and shot up the rankings, almost overtaking his captain, to finish seven under for the day and for the tournament with a share of eighth place.

But more importantly, he catapulted Legion XIII to victory on his debut, along with the help of Caleb Surratt and Kieran Vincent.

“I probably would have been angry when I finished,” Rahm said. “So to actually have something to celebrate is one of the main reasons I decided to transition.

“Sharing the stage with those three guys, sharing the golf course with all the other teams and competing for something different, that’s what it’s all about. It means a lot. It’s really fun to be on the golf course and see the team doing well.

‘The first time I could see scores was on 12, and at that point Tyrrell was already seven under, and the other guys were doing great too. We had a comfortable lead and that also motivated me to play a little better.’

Tyrrell Hatton found his feet and catapulted his new team up the standings on Sunday

Tyrrell Hatton found his feet and catapulted his new team up the standings on Sunday

Teenager Caleb Surratt (center) also contributed impressively to their 24-under score

Teenager Caleb Surratt (center) also contributed impressively to their 24-under score

Surratt, who finished five under, also contributed impressively to his team’s total score of 24 under, putting them four shots ahead of Bryson DeChambeau’s Crushers.

It also saw him take home his first professional salary of $750,000. Not bad for a teenager.

“If we won the event, I don’t even know if I would be able to participate in the champagne thing,” the teenager had jokingly admitted during their introductory press conference on Wednesday. Ultimately, he left the champagne squirting to his teammates as he held the trophy.

LIV’s team element was mocked and mocked by many, with professional Eddie Pepperell even calling it ‘cringe’.

But here were Rahm and Hatton, gladiators from Luke Donald’s legion that dismantled Team USA in Rome, risking playing for Team Europe at Bethpage next year in exchange for one of LIV’s Rebel rosters.

Earlier this week, it was almost laughable that they could possibly feel the same passion for a team thrown together at the last minute as they did for Team Europe.

But dressed in their Legion

There are still doubts and questions about the format of LIV and its future. While the players may believe in it, do the fans?

Dressed in their Legion XIII regalia, Rahm and Hatton actually looked like a team

Dressed in their Legion XIII regalia, Rahm and Hatton actually looked like a team

If LIV’s two biggest additions lead the first expansion team straight to victory, the leading group could make some progress in the battle for public opinion.

But Rahm’s defection would mark the new era of LIV Golf. The fact that they couldn’t seize a win from him makes it feel like an opportunity has slipped away.

The circuit was able to promote its season opener as the unveiling of the Masters champion, but with the fuss over his debut out of the way, it remains doubtful whether they can continuously entice fans for the rest of the season.

LIV proudly showed off its $500 million prize this week, but now risks making its coup celebrations a one-off.