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Pathways back to PGA for LIV golfers discussed ‘daily’ – Woods

The contentious issue of how players who embraced the LIV Golf League might return to the US PGA Tour as the global game evolves remains under “daily” discussion, superstar Tiger Woods said Wednesday.

“We’re looking into all the different models for pathways back,” Woods said at a press conference on the eve of the Genesis Invitational at The Riviera Country Club, where he’s set to play his first official PGA Tour event since the Masters last April.

“What that looks like, what the impact is for the players who have stayed and who have not left and how we make our product better going forward, there is no answer to that right now.”

Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, long a scathing critic of LIV Golf, said in January that he believed golf needs to reunite top players, even it delays sorting out any penalties for those who abandoned the established PGA Tour and DP World Tour for the big money offered by the upstart league backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF)

However, at the Phoenix Open last week, Scottie Scheffler and Justin Thomas joined the list of players insisting that LIV golfers — including two-time major winner Dustin Johnson and reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm — should face some consequences for their defections.

“I want the best product and the best players,” Thomas said. “I would say that there’s a handful of players on LIV that would make the tour a better place, but I’m definitely not in the agreement that they should just be able to come back that easily.”

Scheffler, meanwhile, said he thought it would be an unpopular decision to let LIV golfers come back “like nothing ever happened.”

Woods, one of six player-directors on the US PGA Tour’s policy board, indicated the topic was a hot one.

“We’re looking at very different, varying degrees of ideas and what that looks like in the short term, we don’t know,” he said of a potential plan for reintegrating LIV players. “We don’t even know in the longer term what that looks like.

“Trust me, there’s daily, weekly emails and talks about this and what this looks like for our tour going forward.”

The discussion continues as the PGA Tour forges ahead with its new partnership with Strategic Sports Group (SSG) — a consortium of billionaire sports team owners that agreed a $3 billion deal with the tour to create a for-profit commercial entity that will allow nearly 200 PGA Tour players the chance to become equity holders.

Woods said Wednesday that SSG brings the know-how to improve the PGA Tour “entertainment product” while honoring the history and traditions of the tour.

While the deal with SSG is done, Woods said the hope was to complete negotiations to make the PIF “part of our tour and a part of our product.”

The PGA Tour has been negotiating with PIF since June, when the details of a framework merger agreement were announced to the astonishment of PGA Tour players, who had no idea such a plan was in the works.

“Ultimately we would like to have PIF be a part of our tour and a part of our product,” Woods said.

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