Livescore Thursday, April 25
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NORTH YORK, Ontario – Wednesday on the PGA Tour was just different this week.

Sure, there were a handful of press conferences and a pro-am for the 2023 RBC Canadian here at Oakdale Golf and Country Club, and while players like two-time defending champion Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar and the Canadian contingent competing in their national open desperately want to keep the attention on the tournament, for many in the field of 156 players, the event isn’t their main focus.

On Tuesday the PGA Tour announced the formation of a new golf entity alongside the DP World Tour and with the backing of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which had been funding LIV Golf, a rival upstart circuit that has been a thorn in the Tour’s side for more than a year now. The vibe around the course on Wednesday was just flat-out weird, a sentiment echoed by the handful of players willing to talk about the news of the week. It’s not that players refused to speak, they just didn’t know what to say.

“I wish I knew more synonyms, but I would say somber,” said Harry Higgs. “Not in like a death in the family somber, but it’s a little difficult to go about business as usual … Part of me doesn’t feel like I really should be here right now, not that I should leave the tournament, this just feels kind of weird.”

“From the sounds of it, it was something that (PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan) thought about and couldn’t avoid. So it does distract you,” said Mackenzie Hughes. “I mean, I’m answering a question now about something that’s not really pertaining to this week or this championship … but once we get through today and we get going tomorrow, I think that the focus will be on the RBC Canadian Open and that’s where it should be.”

Mackenzie Hughes plays a shot during the pro-am ahead of the 2023 RBC Canadian Open. (Photo: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

Fans and even players are learning about the new entity on the fly, and the press release offered little concrete information. What we know is all pending litigation between the Tour and LIV has vanished, and if approved, players would be united once again. Current PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan will be the CEO, while Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the PIF, will be the chair of the board. The PIF will also be the sole investor and has right of first refusal for new money coming in.

“Sports is business and it’s big business. It’s hard to turn somebody away when they want to invest in what you do,” said Higgs. “There are certainly reasons why you could turn this investor away, many reasons, but eventually the dollar wins out.”

With the PIF as its sole funder, LIV Golf has long been criticized as a way for Saudi Arabia to sportswash its controversial human rights record, which includes accusations of wide-ranging human rights abuses, including politically motivated killings, torture, forced disappearances and inhumane treatment of prisoners.

Players used words like betrayed, frustrated, blind-sided and confused to describe their initial reactions to not just the news, but how the information was relayed. Corey Conners said it was “off putting” for players in a member-led organization to find out on Twitter, while countryman Hughes noted how players are “used to having bombshells dropped every now and then” since the formation of LIV Golf.

“Even those that have agreed on this deal, it’s an idea,” added Higgs. “There’s no way to know what’s coming, even those that agreed on it don’t know.”

That’s where a lot of the frustration comes in to play. Players are the CEO of their own business, and they all want to benefit from the proposed changes. While most are cautiously optimistic for the future and what may come, they all want answers to their questions, sooner rather than later.

“We don’t know what professional golf is gonna look like and Jay and everybody, they don’t know either,” explained Higgs. “They’re working through this. We just have to trust that those that are working through this on our behalf are going to do so with everybody in mind, everybody to some degree. Certainly Rory should benefit more from this than me. It’s just a constant, ‘We don’t know, wait and see, a true who’s to say.’”

Like McIlroy, Higgs said he still has confidence in Monahan despite his dealings in the dark, but it’s “waning.”

“When you do what we’ve done and keep it a secret, you lose some trust, but I also understand why things were kept a secret, too. I get how business works and again, all of sport is a big business and now golf has a seat at that table,” said Higgs. “We are a big, big business now, which should be a great thing, but no one knows how it’s gonna go in the next 5-10 years, 5-10 weeks, 5-10 days. Sadly, it’s just a lot of wait and see, and that’s just a weird place to be as a professional golfer.

“We don’t know, and now we feel a little uneasy that we could wake up in a week to an email that could say something different. Things are gonna start changing and obviously professional golfers don’t like change, but it should be, in time, a change for the better.”

More PGA Tour!

How PGA Tour-DP World Tour and PIF merger impacts Honda Classic and search for new title sponsor

Ludvig Aberg waited a year to turn pro, and he made PGA Tour history ahead of debut at RBC Canadian Open

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on ‘owning his hypocrisy’, lack of transparency, 9/11 family concerns

‘Nobody is perfect’: Bryson DeChambeau torched after CNN interview by golf fans, a PGA Tour player and more

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek

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