LA QUINTA, Calif. — The noise in golf is everywhere these days, and it can be deafening.
Social media seems to thrive on the noise. Players on both sides of the issue are constantly making statements and pointing fingers. And the people in power in the game keep talking about an agreement that still hasn’t happened after seven months.
As the soap opera that is the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund drags on, it is the golfers on both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf who are on the front lines, thrust into dealing with the future of the game on the public stage of tournament competition. Even this week at the American Express, rumors have swirled about which golfers might be next to jump to LIV Golf, following the defending champion of the desert tournament, Jon Rahm, who moved to LIV in December.
How does a player avoid the noise and focus on playing golf?
“Once I get out to the golf course, especially when I’m at home, I play with the same guys every week at home, and so it’s not really a big topic of discussion for us in our day-to-day lives,” said Scottie Scheffler, the No. 1 player in the world rankings. “At night, sometimes, going out to dinner and stuff like that with the guys out here, conversations are a bit different than they have been in the past, but that’s just because we got some stuff we need to figure out.”
While Scheffler is the No. 1 player in the world, sixth-ranked Patrick Cantlay has been the subject of much of the noise. As negotiations between the PGA Tour and the PIF continue, Cantlay has been identified as a leader among the players in the fight for the future of the PGA Tour and professional golf.
In that battle, Cantlay says he’s still able to focus on winning.
“It’s one of my strengths, is compartmentalizing, and being as focused as I possibly can be at the task at hand,” Cantlay said. “So, I think there’s a little more effort to try to focus solely on golf while I’m golfing, but I’m able to do that.”
Cantlay does not back away from his role in the negotiations based on a framework announced last June between the PGA Tour and the PIF. Those organizations set an end-of-the-year deadline for an agreement, but that date has been extended as negotiations continue.
“I have a responsibility to the membership, to represent them as best as possible, and I care deeply about that,” Cantlay said. “So, doing a good job there is not only what I want to do, but also…