Suggesting blank checks and red carpets await defecting players coming back to the PGA Tour doesn’t sit well with some of the circuit’s top stars.
World #1 Scottie Scheffler became the latest prominent voice to firmly oppose the notion of LIV Golf players rejoining the PGA Tour without penalty or prerequisites. His comments to Golf Channel this week doubled down on similar sentiment from peers like Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler.
- World #1 Scottie Scheffler believes LIV golfers should face “some sort of caveat” before returning to PGA Tour
- He says players who sued the tour did so in poor taste, burning bridges, but others just left
- Scheffler thinks PGA Tour players who remained loyal would oppose LIV players coming back easily
- Justin Thomas echoed this view, saying LIV golfers shouldn’t have a “direct road” back due to the sacrifices other players made
- Specific ideas for requirements or “contributions” for returning players remain unclear
The debate follows Rory McIlroy recently floating reconciliation by saying LIV players should become eligible for PGA Tour status once again. But Scheffler and company believe the outflow of talent in 2022 can’t simply be forgotten overnight.
“I think there should be some sort of caveat to them getting back on our tour,” Scheffler stated when asked about a pathway for LIV players to return.
While the specifics remain unclear, the Masters champion suggested some form of action or “contribution” should precede reentry to competitive PGA Tour events.
Scheffler elaborated that he holds no grudges toward individual players who left for LIV Golf. However, he distinguished between defectors who sued the tour and those who quietly exited stage left, noting the legal action specifically “wasn’t really in great taste.”
The underlying notion shared by the world #1 and peers like Thomas seems to be that staying loyal to the PGA Tour through its clash with the Saudi-backed disruptor needs to mean something.
Both suggest PGA Tour players who turned down guaranteed LIV money and opportunities made sacrifices last year that shouldn’t be negated hastily. Granting defectors instant access risks devaluing the commitment shown by stars who remained under the PGA umbrella.
🚨⛳️ #NEW: Scottie Scheffler joins those who say LIV golfers should NOT be welcomed back without consequences: “…I have no bad blood toward the guys that left. But a path toward coming back, it wouldn’t be a very popular decision, I think, if they just came back like nothing… pic.twitter.com/RWJIui4aBY
— NUCLR GOLF (@NUCLRGOLF) February 7, 2024
“There’s a lot of us that made sacrifices … I would have a hard time with it,” Thomas said this week in Phoenix regarding effortless reentry for LIV golfers.
So while McIlroy preaches for golf unity and Scheffler believes “there should be a pathway back,” sentiment among several PGA Tour icons leans toward an arduous journey, not a first-class flight. Rebuilding trust may require more than turning the page.
What reparations or requirements that pathway entails remain anyone’s guess. Public apologies, financial penalties, probationary periods without full status, and limited tournament eligibility represent just some hypothetical hoops for returning players to jump through.
As LIV Golf’s future financial footing appears on less steady ground, speculation suggests some marquee team members like Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and even newest signee Jon Rahm privately rue what they surrendered by exiting stage left.
Winning easy money abroad may lose its luster if access to major championships, Player Impact Program bonuses and FedEx Cup payouts get severed indefinitely. The PGA Tour seemingly senses shifting leverage with its new private equity backing, potentially enabling harsher terms for those eyeing redemption.
While a game of high-stakes poker continues unfolding behind closed doors, superstars like Scheffler and Thomas just tipped their hands at the table. When and if defectors start flooding back, Tour loyalty won’t be taking the first tee times. Exile from golf’s premier stage guarantees no return to prime time without penalties, apologies or atonement.
The barrier for re-entry may require far more than signing a scorecard and paying dues.