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Golf-PGA merger with LIV a delicate balancing act, says board member Dunne


(Reuters) – The PGA Tour faces a delicate balancing act in welcoming back LIV Golf players while also ensuring those who stayed loyal to the U.S.-based circuit “feel good” about their decision, PGA Tour board member Jimmy Dunne said.

Earlier this week, the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and rival Saudi-backed LIV circuit — who have been involved in a bitter fight that had split the sport — announced a shock agreement to merge and form one unified commercial entity.

The merger left a sour taste in the mouth of players who stuck with the PGA Tour despite the massive signing bonuses offered by LIV Golf, with Rory McIlroy saying they were made “sacrificial lambs” and should be compensated for their loyalty.

Dunne said that once the “venom and self-centred concerns” are dealt with, they hoped they could find a way to reward their golfers while providing a pathway for LIV Golf players back to the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.

“As we get through that and we come up with a methodology that people can re-enter, when we establish what the criteria will be, there needs to be something that people that didn’t go (to LIV Golf)… feel good about it,” Dunne told Golf Channel.

“I don’t want it to be so outrageously punitive in nature. I want to try to get a balance and make sure that while everyone’s needs are heard and felt that we do what’s right for the game.

“We have to make sure that whatever it is that we finalise, that they feel good about their decisions (to remain on the PGA Tour)… I don’t think it’s going to be easy and I don’t think we’re all going to agree, but I think we can get there.”

Dunne, who helped broker the merger, also said the PGA Tour was ready to “walk away” if they felt there was anything that would have hurt the game.

He added the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) would not control the professional game, especially with PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan installed as CEO of the new entity.

“By definition, as much as I liked the people I dealt with, the game of golf is too important, the legacy of the PGA Tour is too important,” Dunne added.

“The people that we have in place have too much experience that… there’s no way on God’s green earth that we’re going to give up control.”

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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