Scottie Scheffler: Golf’s ‘splintering’ created by players who left

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While there remains no end in sight for the schism in men’s professional golf, Scottie Scheffler said fans should not forget how the sport splintered in the first place.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan admitted Tuesday fans were “tired of hearing about conflict, money and who is getting what” amid a drawn-out negotiation with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the backers of rival league LIV Golf.

Ahead of his title defense at The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Scheffler was asked Tuesday if PGA Tour players were concerned about golf fans feeling “disenchanted” by the state of the game.

“If the fans are upset, then look at the guys that left,” Scheffler said. “We had a tour, we were all together and the people that left are no longer here. At the end of the day, that’s where the splintering comes from.

“As far as our tour goes, like I said, we’re doing our best to create the best product for the fans, and that’s really where we’re at.”

Scheffler, who’s long said he has no interest in joining LIV Golf, said he and his fellow players have no control over whether their peers want to leave, as Spain’s Jon Rahm did just last December for a reported $500 million.

“If guys want to go take the money and leave, then that’s their decision,” Scheffler said. “I’m not going to sit here and tell guys not to take hundreds of millions of dollars. If that’s what they think is best for their life, then go do it. I’m not going to sit here and force guys to stay on our tour.

“But at the end of the day, this is where I want to be, and we’re continuing to grow what we’re doing, and what they’re doing is not really a concern to me.”

The PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and the PIF announced a surprise “framework agreement” to merge interests on June 6 of last year. A self-imposed Dec. 31 deadline to finalize the agreement was not met, and Monahan told reporters Tuesday that things are “accelerating” toward a “positive outcome.”

In the meantime, LIV Golf began its third season of existence and dropped its pursuit to be recognized by the Official World Golf Ranking. Scheffler has held the No. 1 world ranking since tying for second at the PGA Championship 10 months ago; his grip on the top spot has been strengthened not only by his win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, but also LIV players’ inability to earn points except at majors and Asian Tour events.

Scheffler said Tuesday that the top of the rankings is pretty accurate, but things get “skewed” the further down you look, “because there’s certain groups of guys that aren’t getting any ranking points.

“It was kind of the thing that you saw when guys went to LIV,” he said. “Their golf games took a little bit of a hit, just basically from a strokes gained perspective. You have another ranking system you can look at for the strokes gained. I would say arguably that would be a more accurate ranking system now.

“The world rankings I still think is a good ranking system, but it’s missing a few players, for sure.”