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Jon Rahm signs autographs during the Par Three Contest prior to the 2024 Masters Tournament, at Augusta National Golf Club, in Augusta, Ga., on April 10.Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

After making a big deal of being on one side, then switching to the other, Jon Rahm took a publicity breather.

That’s not how things usually work in sports. When people give you a lot of money, they generally expect you to do some promotional work.

But the Saudis have a different work process. They love unveilings, but have little interest in competitions. So Rahm took a four-month breather.

Now that the Masters has rolled around, Rahm is back and trying hard to sound like a regular guy. ‘Hey, it’s been a while since we hung out, golf fans. Let’s get together soon and do something fun. Do you like shopping for jets?’

Everybody and their editor in the golf press has a Rahm interview this week. They are uniformly upbeat (the price of a sit-down with a major star) and angled toward the thing Rahm cares about – re-positioning himself as a principled conciliator in the LIV-PGA war, rather than as its most cynical opportunist.

Is it working? It doesn’t matter. People don’t expect their political leaders to have principles any more. Why would they hold their golfers to a higher standard?

The only person who comes out of this looking better is Tiger Woods. He had the supreme good sense to say and do as little as possible.

But everyone else is still acting like the average golf fan’s daily life is affected by whether or not LIV decides to conform to the PGA’s 72-hole standard. Meanwhile, hanging slightly above it all, there is the Masters.

Not so long ago, this tournament – which begins Thursday – was golf’s Lourdes. Everyone made the pilgrimage once a year to anoint the chosen.

Between the ceremonial tee shot and the final putt, golf’s living history is linked in an unbroken chain. The rituals in between are as settled as anything in religion.

Maybe this is why the tournament has such romantic appeal, even to people who don’t care for the sport – you may be changing on your way to the grave, but the Masters does not.

Since LIV’s arrival, the Masters has a new role. It’s no longer just a holy site, but also the Davos of golf.

Most of that is down to the calendar. As the first major following the winter break, this is where the issues of the day are addressed in public. Enemies make a great show of being friends again, if only for a week. It’s where you figure out what’s in and what’s out.

In – cerebral Richelieu types like Patrick Cantlay.

Out – inflated frat bros like Bryson DeChambeau.

Golf is in its Game of Thrones stage, but not clever. It’s mostly just a bunch of dopes calling their agents and saying, ‘HOW MUCH??’

Everyone is getting something from LIV’s entry into golf, but no one’s stock has been pushed higher than the Masters. The effect of splintering the men’s tour has been to create a de facto annual World Cup in Augusta.

Somehow, the Masters has managed to seem like a guardian of history while doing nothing to protect the status quo. The Augusta National board is both liberal and conservative, with a long streak of libertarianism thrown in. The board members are for golf, but since they are golf, they are mostly for themselves.

The three other majors get the same benefit, but it is not as pronounced. The Masters is where the themes of the coming year are settled. Its winner receives the greatest glory. What’s past is prologue, season after season.

It is in the Masters’s interest that the LIV-PGA war is never hot, but never quite resolved. On that tip, things are looking good.

How long does it take anyone to decide if they want a new partner with a ton of money who doesn’t really care how you run your business? Forever, apparently.

There is something comedic about watching golf wrestle with whether or not it can morally accommodate the Saudis. Let’s skip to the end of this show – it can. All sport can and eventually will accommodate anyone who has cash on tap.

It’s not a matter of convincing other people – other people don’t care. They just want their circuses.

The hard part for any league is coming to grips with the idea that it is not run by and made up of virtuous people. That one hurts. But just look at Jon Rahm – he made that terrible sacrifice.

Why do the PGA and its allies insist on stretching out their eventual absorption by the sovereign wealth fund? A long, dark moment of the soul. Being seen to struggle with it doesn’t fool anyone, but it makes them feel better.

Which is all great for the Masters. It has compromised nothing. Whatever deals with the devil it made, they were done long ago. Now it’s the United Nations of golf – everyone’s welcome. (Not to join, of course. Don’t be ridiculous.)

Augusta National offers its billionaire members something they cannot purchase elsewhere – the sense that they are on the right side of history. In this case, the side of history itself.

Ten, 15 years ago, the accepted thinking about golf was that it was finished. Woods was on his way out and there was no one to replace him. Golf was boy bands and Cigar Aficionado – something that peaked in the late nineties.

Since then, the Masters has consolidated its place as something more than a sports tournament – it’s a season.

The Super Bowl is winter; the Masters is spring; Wimbledon (and sometimes the Olympics) is summer; and fall is the return of college football.

You think of those annual milestones and you can feel their weather. They are the summit.

Chaos in golf suits the Masters. The more disordered the world around it gets, the more those four days on the world’s most manicured lawn feel like something we can all depend on.

Sporting empires may rise and fall – real empires, even – but one feels as certain as one can be that the Masters will persevere.

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