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Division in professional golf must be resolved for good of game

Division in professional golf must be resolved for good of game

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Starting with Rory McIlroy’s 5-under 31 on his front side Thursday morning, it was refreshing to feel a genuine buzz emitting from The Players Championship.

All the subsequent roars echoing across the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass the past few days gave the golf world a perfect diversion from the Kardashian-level drama swirling around it.

The last thing golf needs, on the 50th anniversary of the Players no less, is division. Fans that care about the sport are fatigued, wondering how much longer the PGA Tour leadership will continue being burdened with strife about its future.

It’s no wonder Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, the players and galleries welcomed getting to the point where they could focus on The Players competition and eventually applaud a champion.

Frankly, the prelude to the Players wasn’t much fun. The media narratives were more about what the Tour business model is going to look like moving forward, and less about actual golf or compelling player story lines.

Sadly, all this chaos about whether the Tour is going to finalize a deal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the financial backers of LIV Golf, or how all that influx of $1.5 billion cash from Tour partner Strategic Sports Group might be dispersed to the players is no way to grow the game.

It’s an enormous turnoff, so stop this nonsense. Fix it.

Golf observers — be they casual, ardent supporters or on the fence — have little interest in how multi-millionaires are going to add to their bottom line.

Greed never plays well in any sports arena, less so with golf, whose audiences are much smaller than football or basketball. It’s seen a significant drop in TV ratings in 2024, including a 30 percent decrease in the final round of the 2024 Arnold Palmer Invitational, when world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler won by five shots, compared to a year ago.

With Tiger Woods mostly on the sideline, the Tour has picked a bad time to be embroiled in squabbling over how to map out its future — deal or no deal? — with the Saudi PIF.

Deciding how to funnel more money into the bank accounts of players already assured of lifetime financial security isn’t the water-cooler conversation golf is seeking.

Monahan incurred the wrath of players and the golf world at large last June when he reversed course about doing business with the PIF. The Tour reached a stunning framework agreement with PIF, but those negotiations are still in limbo. It’s a…


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