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With 2 Days Left, PGA Championship’s Glory Gets Stripped Down by Tour’s Shambled Leadership

Published 05/13/2024, 9:16 PM EDT

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The second major championship is just around the corner; however, the PIF-PGA Tour merger has once again grabbed the headlines with the news of one of the PGA Tour Board members’ departure. On May 13, 2024, Jimmy Dunnes announced his resignation from the PGA Tour policy board. Dunne, who became a part of the Board in January 2023, was one of the key individuals who worked on the PGA Tour-PIF merger. However, in his recent statement, he stated, “As you are aware, I have not been asked to take part in negotiations with the PIF since June 2023.”

With Dunne’s resignation, there are only four independent directors currently on the Board, who happen to be Ed Herlihy, Mark Flaherty, Joe Gorder, and Mary Meeker, whereas there are six player directors, which include Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Peter Malnati, Jordan Spieth, and Webb Simpson. According to Dunne, the player directors outnumbering the independent directors has negatively impacted the progress of the PGA Tour and PIF merger. He also stated, “No meaningful progress has been made towards a transaction with PIF, I feel like my vote and role is utterly superfluous.”

The golf world saw some major changes when LIV Golf came into existence. Prominent players like Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, and many more chose to jump ships and be a part of the PIF-funded league. Lefty was suspended alongside other PGA Tour pros who chose to defect to the rebel league. The situation between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour quickly turned sour and they headed for a year-long legal battle. However, after the merger announcement, both parties chose to drop the antitrust lawsuits. In his letter, the Vice Chairman of Piper Sandler emphasized on the importance of the merger. He wrote, “The board must avoid letting yesterday’s differences interfere with today’s decisions, especially when they influence future opportunities for the Tour.” 

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The bifurcation in the golf world has had a detrimental effect on the landscape of golf and the fatigue in golf fans caused by the rivalry can be seen through the drastic drop in viewership. Even Rory McIlroy expressed how the division in golf can be the underlying cause of viewership troubles and stated, “‘OK, we need to get this thing back together. The numbers aren’t as good; it’s an argument to still say we need to put everyone back together because people are losing interest in the game if they don’t even want to tune in to the four major championships.”

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Dunne, in his resignation letter, concluded, “Unifying professional golf is paramount to restoring fan interest and repairing wounds left from a fractured game. I have tried my best to move all minds in that direction.” This is not the first time that the golf community has let controversial news eclipse the glory of the Majors. This turned out to drastically affect a lot of players and their followers, too. For instance, Phil Mickelson was asked not to participate in a tradition that is held before the Open Championship because of his shift to LIV Golf.

R&A advised Phil Mickelson not to be a part of the Open Championship in 2022

Just like the Masters’ Champions Dinner, every year, before the commencement of the Open Championship, a dinner is held at the R&A clubhouse for all the past champions. Phil Mickelson had won the tournament back in 2013, which made him eligible to take part in the tradition. But it was the year 2022 and Phil Mickelson had become a LIV Golfer.

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Even though he was still a part of the field, he was advised not to attend the Dinner as the organizers solely wanted to focus on the 150th edition of the said event. They said, “Look, we don’t think it’s a great idea you go, but if you want to, you can”. Mickelson later addressed the topic and stated, “I just didn’t want to make a big deal about it, so I said fine. We both kind of agreed that it would be best if I didn’t.’’ Along with him, even the CEO of LIV Golf, Greg Norman, who is a two-time Open champion, was not invited to the festivities!

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Although the merger was committed to come into action before the Masters, there is still no discussion about it! However, it is safe to say that the future of golf rests on what the agreement brings to the table.

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Written by:

Aheli Chakraborty

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Aheli Chakraborty is a Golf Writer at EssentiallySports. Armed with a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature, Aheli has actively covered many big events in the sport, including The Masters. She specializes in covering up-and-coming athletes like Charlie Woods and Ludvig Aberg, and she is always looking to answer her readers' most-asked questions through her writing! Aheli is also a bodybuilding fanatic and has contributed many niche pieces for ES' fitness coverage.
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Edited by:

Tushhita Barua

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