Golf News

LIV Golf/PGA Tour split still turning golf fans off

2024 Players Championship

When Jay Monahan met with the media ahead of this week’s Players Championship, the flagship tournament for the PGA Tour for which Monahan is the commissioner, two things became apparent.

First, with many of the LIV golfers in the world able to play in the four major championships, the Players Championship might be the tournament that is impacted the most by the absence of the LIV Tour players like Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka. The narrative that the Players is the fifth major isn’t very strong when the majors are actually letting the LIV Golf and the PGA Tour players play together, but the Players Championship isn’t allowing that.

The second thing that is crystal clear is that the PGA Tour is still in trouble two years into the battle with the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Tour. Monahan answered plenty of questions, but didn’t, in reality, give many answers.

Monahan said that the negotiations with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund over a potential investment deal are still ongoing, but his unwillingness to offer details about the negotiations or what a potential deal will look like are hardly the things that disgruntled and frustrated golf fans want to hear.

What fans want is a deal. They want the talk of negotiations and player defections and money and money and more money to go away. Monahan basically told those fans that the battle will continue and there is no deadline for a deal. And there is certainly no guarantee that PGA Tour players will ignore overtures from LIV in the coming months.

Monahan talked about the fans, but when push came to shove, he talked more about what is best for the members of the PGA Tour. The fans have been rising with a more unified voice of frustration and are showing that frustration through a drop in television ratings for PGA Tour events. Only the American Express with its amateur winner Nick Dunlap has seen a ratings increase among tour events this year. Fans still don’t seem to be a priority.

2024 Players Championship

Viktor Hovland focuses on the 10th hole during the first round of The Players Championship Thursday, March 14, 2024, at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Will fans stay or revolt?

The thinking is probably that the fans are the fans and they will continue to be fans, and that they won’t abandon the game they love over two years of money grabs and insults. That might be dangerous thinking as the Tour continues negotiations with LIV, especially given that the PIF seems to have greater leverage than the PGA Tour…


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