Scheffler: Golf's 'splintering' due to LIV defectors



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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — If golf fans are upset that the best players in the world aren’t playing in the same events such as this week’s Players Championship, world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler said they need to turn their anger to the side that caused the sport to fracture.

“If the fans are upset, then look at the guys that left,” Scheffler said Tuesday. “We had a tour, we were all together and the people that left are no longer here. At the end of the day, that’s where the splintering comes from.

“As far as our tour goes, like I said, we’re doing our best to create the best product for the fans, and that’s really where we’re at.”

While Scheffler will try to defend his title at the 50th Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm and other past major champions like Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith and Bryson DeChambeau aren’t in the field because they’re playing in the rival LIV Golf League.

The PGA Tour’s flagship event, known as the “fifth major,” doesn’t boast the same deep field that it has in the past.

If guys want to go take the money and leave, then that’s their decision,” Scheffler said. “I’m not going to sit here and tell guys not to take hundreds of millions of dollars. If that’s what they think is best for their life, then go do it. I’m not going to sit here and force guys to stay on our tour.

“But at the end of the day, this is where I want to be, and we’re continuing to grow what we’re doing, and what they’re doing is not really a concern to me.”

Earlier Tuesday, during his first news conference since the Tour Championship in Atlanta in August, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said the circuit’s negotiations with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund had “accelerated.” The sides are discussing a potential $3 billion investment from the sovereign wealth fund, which has financed LIV Golf the past three years.

Monahan and partners from Strategic Sports Group, a consortium of billionaire sports team owners that has already announced it will invest as much as $3 billion into the PGA Tour, met with PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan in Saudi Arabia in January.

Monahan said the tour realizes that fans are “tired of hearing about conflict, money and who is getting what.”

One of the next steps in a potential deal is Al-Rumayyan meeting with player directors on the PGA Tour policy board, including Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. The player directors are also serving on the board of PGA Tour Enterprises, the for-profit entity created by the tour and SSG.

“I think it’s really important that we’re all rowing in the same direction,” said Patrick Cantlay, one of the player directors. “I think with this PGA Tour Enterprises board, I think it’s really exciting that we do have a chance to kind of start with something new and all move together in the right direction.”

During Monahan’s news conference, a reporter asked if he believed he had the board’s full backing as he worked to move the deal with the Saudis forward. Monahan acknowledged that there’s been “a lot of good, spirited debate amongst our board” about his future as commissioner.

“You know, that’s a question that you’ll have to ask for players,” Monahan said. “I can’t generalize as it relates to players, but clearly given the responsibility I’ve been given by both boards, I have the support of our board, and I am the right person to lead us forward. I know that. I believe that in my heart, and I’m determined to do exactly that.”

Xander Schauffele, the sixth-ranked golfer in the world, said he remains skeptical that Monahan is the right man to lead the tour. Schauffele has called for Monahan’s resignation in the past.

Trust is something that’s pretty tender, so words are words, and I would say in my book he’s got a long way to go,” Schauffele said. “I’m sure he’s got the support of the [player] board, since they were with him making some of those decisions, but for me personally he’s got quite a ways to go.”



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