Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson want ‘best outcome’ of PGA Tour-LIV dispute

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson want to see the PGA Tour-LIV Golf dispute get settled.

Speaking during a joint press conference after the three legends hit the ceremonial tee shots to the 88th edition of the Masters, Watson shared a special moment during the Champions Dinner, which brought together 33 of the past winners – seven of them members of LIV – in their Green Jackets and Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Fred Ridley, on Tuesday evening.

“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?’ ” Watson recalled.

He added that he hoped the players would take it upon themselves to reach a resolution, sooner rather than later.

“We have to do something,” Watson said. “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.”

Nicklaus echoed that sentiment and placed his trust in PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan to lead the way.

“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 want to be privy to it,” Nicklaus said. “I talked to Jay not very long ago, and I said, ‘Jay, 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.’ I said, ‘How are you doing?’ He said, ‘We’re doing fine.’ I said, “OK, that’s all I want to know.’ If Jay thinks we’re doing fine, we’ll get there, I think we’ll get there. And I certainly hope that happens, the sooner the better.”

Player touched on how that division in golf and attention on the greed in the game has turned off the public. But he also noted that the players who had stayed loyal to the PGA Tour needed to be compensated in some way (which they will be through the infusion of capital into the Tour’s new for-profit arm from private equity investment.)

“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,” Player said. “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.”

Wise words from three of the all-time greats, who still care deeply about the state of professional golf.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek