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‘Too many people are losing interest’: LIV Golf players agree the current state of professional golf is ‘unsustainable’

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PGA Tour and LIV Golf players finally have something to agree on – the divide and current state of professional golf is unsustainable.

Rory McIlroy has been outspoken on the topic over the last few months, and a week before the two sides reunite for the first major of the year at the 2024 Masters – 13 LIV players will tee it up at Augusta National – a handful of LIV’s captains explained why the game needs to come back together sooner rather than later.

“The fans are what drive this sport. If we don’t have fans, we don’t have golf. We are not up here entertaining. That’s the most important thing as of right now, the low-hanging fruit. There’s got to be a way to come together,” said Bryson DeChambeau ahead of this week’s LIV Golf Miami event at Trump National Doral. “It’s not sustainable for sure, and we all respect that and recognize that and want the best for the game of golf. We all love this game and we want to keep playing it and we want to keep competing.”

“And it needs to happen fast. It’s not a two-year thing,” he added. “Like it needs to happen quicker rather than later just for the good of the sport. Too many people are losing interest.”

Jon Rahm, the biggest name to make the jump to LIV from the PGA Tour ahead of the 2024 season, believes there’s enough room in the professional golf sandbox for both circuits.

“I think there’s room for both. It’s as simple as that. I think we have the opportunity to end up with an even better product for the spectators and the fans of the game, a little bit more variety doesn’t really hurt anybody,” said Rahm, who will look to defend his Masters title next week. “I think properly done, we can end up with a much better product that can take golf to the next level worldwide, and I’m hoping that’s what ends up happening.”

“I agree with that. I think in the end, we are in a transitional state where we now have competition and that’s leading to a lot of disruption and change but it’s also in the end product going to make golf more global where the best players travel more,” added Phil Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion. “I don’t know how it’s going to end out, exactly, or what it’s going to look like. I’m putting my trust in Yasir and where the game is headed more globally. But at some point when it gets ironed out, I think it’s going to be in a much better place where we bring the best players from the world, and it’s going to open up more opportunities for manufacturing, course design, for players in different parts of the world to be inspired and enter the game. I think it’s going to be in a much better place.”

Mickelson said the game is in a “disruption phase” that started back in 2022 when he and the first crop of players took their talents to the Saudi-backed league. Since then, the PGA Tour has made drastic changes to its schedule and has created a for-profit entity, PGA Tour Enterprises, with initial funding of $1.5 billion from the Strategic Sports Group, an outside investment group comprised of various owners of teams in other professional sports leagues.

PGA Tour Enterprises was initially supposed to be backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund – LIV’s longtime financier – as part of the framework agreement that was announced and shocked the golf world on June 6, 2023. The new entity is still considering as much as a $3 billion investment from the PIF in the wake of a meeting between PIF governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, and the Tour’s leadership in the Bahamas last month.

The U.S. Department of Justice and Senate both have a keen interest in the proposed deal, which doesn’t appear to be anywhere near completion, much to the chagrin of players on both sides of the professional golf aisle.

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