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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Masters Making Way for PGA Tour, LIV Stakeholders to Discuss Future

  • The Masters is the first tournament of 2024 with players from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf.
  • Players from both sides are mingling in the lead-up to Thursday’s first round.
Katie Goodale-USA TODAY Network

The Masters arrives this week with plenty of lingering questions about the future of professional golf, which has been fractured for the past two years. The PGA Tour and LIV Golf are not merged, and there is no timetable for when the divide could be resolved. But as players have been getting ready for the first major championship of the year, Augusta National has proved to be a pivotal meeting place for key figures from both sides.

During a press conference Tuesday morning, defending Masters champion Jon Rahm (above, left) said he had hoped his move to LIV would expedite negotiations between the PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, but he admitted his influence is minimal. “Unfortunately, it’s not up to me,” he said. But later in the day Rahm spoke one-on-one with Rory McIlroy (above, right)—perhaps the Tour’s biggest supporter in the battle with LIV—for several minutes on the driving range. He also made nice with Tour members Tony Finau and Tom Kim before heading out to a practice round with European Ryder Cup teammate Nicolai Højgaard. 

Also seen chatting near the driving range was 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson, LIV’s first big catch in ’22, and the green-jacket-wearing Jimmy Dunne, the powerful Augusta National and PGA Tour policy board member who helped broker last summer’s controversial framework agreement with the PIF. What were Rahm, McIlroy, Johnson, Dunne, and others talking about? If only we knew. One thing we can be certain of: It would be a surprise if the PGA Tour and LIV Golf were not brought up in those conversations.

Playing Nice

Out on the course, Brooks Koepka and Adrian Meronk were among the LIV golfers to play practice rounds with PGA Tour players, in addition to Cam Smith, who hit the links with fellow Australians Jason Day, Adam Scott, and Min Woo Lee. But the sight of players repping LIV league and team logos at Augusta National (which also happened last year) is still hard for many fans to believe. As Smith and Day shared a laugh walking down the No. 10 fairway, several patrons could be heard joking about the Ripper GC branding on Smith’s bag.

New-Look Tiger Still a Main Draw

As five-time champion Tiger Woods looks to break a Masters record by making a 24th consecutive cut this week, he still has yet another green jacket on his mind. “If everything comes together, I think I can get one more,” he said.

Woods played nine-hole practice rounds Monday and Tuesday, unsurprisingly drawing the biggest crowds of anyone at Augusta National. But an unfamiliar style in his recently launched Sun Day Red brand was a strange sight to some fans. “It’s so weird seeing him without a Nike hat on,” one man said to his group of friends. “I think they really missed the mark on that logo,” another quipped about the brand’s flagship striped tiger drawing.

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