Tom Watson: I don’t think the PGA TOUR or the LIV Tour have an answer

Ronan MacNamara

Honorary Starters Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Gary Player (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Tom Watson insists that Tuesday night’s Champions Dinner at Augusta National ahead of the Masters was a stark reminder of the chasm in mens’ professional golf currently with the best players no longer competing against each other regularly.

Watson took it upon himself to speak at the table where he remarked how wonderful it was that players from the PGA Tour and LIV were back together again for the first major championship of the year but warned that unless a solution is found between both tours, then stellar fields will continue to be few and far between.

“Well, we all know golf is fractured with the LIV Tour and the PGA TOUR doing the different things they are doing,” Watson said after the ceremonial tee shots alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

“You know, I got up at the Champions Dinner, and it was really a wonderful event. We were sitting down and we were having great stories about Seve Ballesteros and people were laughing and talking. I said to Mr. Ridley, I said, “Do you mind if I say something about being here together with everybody?”

“He said, “Please do.”

“And I got up and I said — I’m looking around the room, and I’m seeing just a wonderful experience everybody is having. They are jovial. They are having a great time. They are laughing. I said, “Ain’t it good to be together again?”

“And there was kind of an appall from the joviality, and it quieted down, and then Ray Floyd got up and it was time to leave.

“And in a sense, I hope that the players themselves took that to say, you know, we have to do something. We have to do something.

“We all know it’s a difficult situation for professional golf right now. The players really kind of have control I think in a sense. What do they want to do? We’ll see where it goes. We don’t have the information or the answers. I don’t think the PGA TOUR or the LIV Tour really have an answer right now.

“But I think in this room, I know the three of us want to get together. We want to get together like we were at that Champions Dinner, happy, the best players playing against each other. The bottom line; that’s what we want in professional golf, and right now, we don’t have it.”

Eighteen-time major winner, Nicklaus, also stressed the importance of having the best players playing together regularly again and revealed he had met PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan but did not ask for an update on merger negotiations.

“The best outcome is the best players play against each other all the time. That’s what I feel about it. And how it’s going, I don’t know, I don’t think I’m — I don’t want to be privy to it. I talked to Jay not very long ago, and I said, “Jay,” I said, “don’t tell me what’s going on because I don’t want to have to lie to the press and people that ask me questions.”

Player believes the players who remained loyal to the PGA Tour should be compensated if LIV golfers are allowed back.

“Anytime in any business whatsoever, not only in the golf business, there’s confrontation, it’s unhealthy. You’ve got to get together and come to a solution. If you cannot — it’s not good. The public don’t like it, and we as professionals don’t like it, either.

“But it’s a big problem because they paid all these guys to join the LIV Tour fortunes, I mean, beyond one’s comprehension and the players that were loyal, three of us and others.

“Now these guys come back and play, I really believe the players, that if they are loyal, should be compensated in some way or another; otherwise, there’s going to be dissension.”

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