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Tiger says productive PGA-Saudi talks brought endgame closer

Tiger Woods, chiping onto the first green during a US Open practice round, says merger talks between the PGA Tour and Saudi backers of LIV Golf are nearing an endgame after a productive meeting (Alex Slitz)
Tiger Woods, chiping onto the first green during a US Open practice round, says merger talks between the PGA Tour and Saudi backers of LIV Golf are nearing an endgame after a productive meeting (Alex Slitz)

An endgame in the year-long merger talks between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf's Saudi backers moved closer with a productive meeting, player negotiator Tiger Woods said Tuesday.

Woods and Rory McIlroy were among those on the PGA Tour Enterprises transaction subcommittee who spoke Friday in New York to Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF) governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan and his negotiators.

"It was productive. And is there light at the end of tunnel? I think we're closer to that point than we were pre-meeting," Woods said.

"We discussed a lot of different endings and how we get there. I think that both sides walked away from the meeting, we all felt very positive in that meeting."

Many big-name players have jumped from the PGA Tour to LIV over the past two years for huge financial guarantees and 54-hole events, Jon Rahm making the move last December.

Since last June's announcement of a framework merger agreement, no final deal has been agreed upon, differing visions on the path to peace in elite golf's civil war keeping both sides in talks more than a year later.

"Both sides were looking at different ways to get to the endgame," Woods said. "I think that both sides shared a deep passion for how we need to get there.

"And yes, there are going to be differences of opinion, but we all want the same thing."

For now, the only place where golf fans can see all the stars in one place is at majors like this week's US Open at Pinehurst, where 13 LIV Golf players are in the field.

One Tuesday LIV practice group featured Americans Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson, a six-time major winner and six-time US Open runner-up who turns 54 on Sunday. He would complete a career Grand Slam with a victory this week.

McIlroy, who spoke at the weekend on the three-hour meeting, called it productive, constructive and collaborative.

"Definitely things are heading in the right direction. A lot of progress was made," he said. "It was really positive. Definitely encouraged."

Trying to agree on a vision for golf's future has McIlroy learning more about legal issues and investment deals.

"They're a sovereign wealth fund. They invest in companies and in different things and they want a return on their investment. It doesn't seem like they're getting that at the minute within golf," McIlroy said.

"If things progress and we get to a certain point, then hopefully they see a future where that can happen, they can start to get some returns on their money."

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