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Tiger: 'progress made' but 'long way to go' in PGA-Saudi talks

By AFP

May 14, 2024 10:51 PM


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Tiger Woods, among the negotiators in PGA Tour merger talks with Saudi backers of LIV Golf, said Tuesday there has been progress but a deal remains a long way off.

Speaking after a practice session at Valhalla for the 106th PGA Championship, which starts on May 16, Woods detailed the state of talks nearly a year after a framework merger deal was announced between Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the PGA Tour.

"Fans are probably as tired as we are of the talk not being about the game of golf and about not being about the players," Woods said. "The fans just want to see us play together. How do we get there is to be determined.

"We've made some progress, yes, for sure, but there's a long way to go still."

Woods, a 15-time major winner, is a member of the PGA Tour Policy Board transaction subcommittee charged with hammering out a deal.

"We're working on negotiations with PIF. It's ongoing. It's fluid. It changes day-to-day," Woods said. "Has there been progress? Yes. But it's an ongoing negotiation so a lot of work ahead for all of us with this process.

"We're making steps. It may not be giant steps, but we're making steps."

His update came a day after Jimmy Dunne resigned from the PGA Policy Board, multiple reports saying the businessman was unhappy at the slow pace of talks, which have gone well past last December's deadline.

Dunne helped create a controversial framework merger agreement unveiled last June 6 between PIF and the PGA Tour, an announcement blindsiding most players and a sudden reversal by PGA commissioner Jay Monahan, who had pushed them to reject LIV only to seemingly wave a surrender flag less than three weeks after LIV's Brooks Koepka won the 2023 PGA Championship.

"Jimmy and the amount of work and dedication he put into the board and the PGA Tour, has been incredible," Woods said. "It was a bit surprising that he resigned."

Dunne, in a resignation letter obtained by Sports Illustrated, said since players are a board majority and "no meaningful progress has been made toward a transaction with PIF, I feel like my vote and my role is utterly superfluous".

Dunne touched upon divisions among what punishment PGA players might want for LIV players seeking a return, saying: "It's crucial for the board to avoid letting yesterday's differences interfere with today's decisions."

Woods said differing views on golf's future is how progress is made.

"We have arguments and we have disagreements, but we want to do what's best for everyone in golf and the tour," Woods said. "Without those kind of conflicts, the progress is not going to be there."

That includes differences between Woods and Rory McIlroy, who is also on the negotiating subcommittee.

"It's good to see it differently, but collectively as a whole we want to see whatever's best for all the players, fans and the state of golf," Woods said.

"How we get there, that's to be determined, but the fact that we're in this fight together to make golf better is what it's all about."

 - 'It's troubling' -

 Golf remains a fractured sport, with top LIV and PGA stars meeting only at majors and television ratings down at the Masters and PGA events.

"If you spend a lot of time on the internet, it does feel like professional golf is crumbling," ninth-ranked Max Homa said. "When we're on the grounds of events, it's amazing. It doesn't feel like it's dying.

"It has got to be exhausting to be a casual golf fan. It's troubling. I don't like where it's going.

"Fans of golf should not know who is on the board. That just seems like a pretty obvious one, so that would be the goal going forward."

Homa wants golf's finest players reunited.

"I hope at some point soon we can just get back to entertaining people," Homa said. "We have a lot going on here but hopefully at some point everybody can find the plot again."


AFP


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