A merger between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund – the financial backers of LIV Golf – remains in question.
However, if there comes a time when the merger is etched in stone, Scottie Scheffler, the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer who plays on the PGA Tour, believes those that left for LIV Golf should not be welcomed back with open arms.
“You had some guys that left our Tour and then sued our Tour,” Scheffler said to The Golf Channel prior to the WM Phoenix Open’s opening round on Thursday. “That wasn’t really in great taste.
“Then you had some other guys that just left and they wanted to do something different. Everybody made their own decision, and I have no bad blood toward the guys that left. But a path towards coming back, I think it wouldn’t be a very popular decision, I think, if they just came back like nothing ever happened.”
Scheffler’s mindset is one many on the PGA Tour had when players initially started taking the millions in guaranteed money to defect.
However, Rory McIlroy, who originally condemned LIV Golf, changed his tune recently.
“I think life is about choices,” he said before last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, via The Guardian. “Guys made choices to go and play LIV, guys made choices to stay here. If people still have eligibility on this tour, and they want to come back and play, or you want to try and do something, let them come back.”
McIlory added that a “diminished” PGA Tour and LIV Golf would be detrimental to the game of golf.
“It would be much better being together and moving forward together for the good of the game. That’s my opinion of it. So to me, the faster that we can all get back together and start to play and start to have the strongest fields possible I think is great for golf,” he explained.
Jon Rahm was the latest high-profile golfer to head to LIV, signing for a rumored $600 million.
“It’s hard to sit here and criticize Jon because of what a great player he is and the experiences I’ve had with him,” McIlroy said.
However, Scheffler thinks that those who left should not get a slap on the wrist if a return comes.
“We remained loyal to a Tour, a Tour that was loyal to us,” Scheffler explained. “I built my entire career here on the PGA Tour, and I wasn’t willing to leave it. I dreamt of playing on this Tour. Some of the guys that left, maybe that wasn’t for them. But I think if they want a pathway back, that there should be one, but it definitely shouldn’t just be coming back in the first week they want to come back and play.
“There should be some sort of caveat to them getting back on our Tour.”
A deal between the Tour and the PIF may never get done. If that is the case, golf’s future would be uncertain as a union would appear less likely.
An agreement was supposed to come at the end of 2023 between the PGA Tour, PIF and Europe’s DP World Tour, but negotiations continue.
The Tour did, however, receive a $3 billion investment from Strategic Sports Group, and it does not include the PIF.