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Seth Waugh has called for greater “urgency” in efforts to bring peace and unity to an increasingly divided men’s professional game.

Speaking on the eve of the second men’s major of the season, taking place at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky, the CEO of the PGA of America issued a passionate plea to the sport’s warring factions – specifically the PGA Tour and LIV Golf – to resolve their differences.

Only minutes before Waugh took to the stage in the interview room, world No.2 Rory McIlroy voiced his disappointment at Jimmy Dunne’s resignation from the PGA Tour board earlier in the week, the Irishman adding that he is concerned over the prospect of a deal now being struck.

Waugh, who was only half-joking when he said he wished that Dunne had delivered that news in a different week, doesn’t necessarily share McIlroy’s concern.

At least, not yet.

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“It’s messy  and it seems to get messier every week,” he said. “I’m a very optimistic type and I’m hoping it’s darkest before dawn, if you will, but I think the best thing for the game is a deal, and we’ve been very consistent on that front.

“What has been an unsustainable business model has put pressure on other places like the [PGA] Tour that creates some financial dynamics as well as other dynamics that are very hard, and quite frankly it puts some financial pressure on us, as well.

“I don’t think the game is big enough for two tours like that, and I think we are diluting the game in a way that is not healthy. We’ve said that from the beginning.

“I hope there’s a deal. I think both sides are not only committed to trying to find a deal but really need a deal, and in my history of deal making, when both sides kind of need something to happen, it generally does.

“I don’t know the timing. I don’t have any insider information. But I’m hopeful that there will be a deal over time.

“And what I would say, I hope there’s urgency because I think it’s doing damage to the Tour, to the game.

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“I hope it’s short-term damage, as opposed to permanent damage, and so I hope there’s some urgency in the timing around it because I just don’t think it’s a healthy situation right now.”

Waugh also gave a fascinating account of LIV Golf’s world rankings application, insisting that he believes the Saudi-funded circuit “misunderstood” how the OWGR process operates.

“First of all, they publicly assumed they were going to have points and they made some promises and really didn’t apply for a while after that,” he said. “Then, they finally did apply, and I think they expected an answer in a very short period of time.

“That’s just never happened. We always look at new tours. One, are they going to be successful? Are they actually going to launch? Are they going to survive more than one season? What quality of play is going to be there? That’s before we even begin to think about it.”

Waugh articulated his belief that the PGA of America was “very responsive” throughout LIV’s application but, ultimately, had two “fundamental” issues with the league that they weren’t sure they could “resolve with math”.

“One was relegation and promotion, and what that looked like because that was murky and they didn’t want to share exactly who was there, so we never knew the percentages of what that would look like,” he added.

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“And secondly, the inherent conflict of team versus individual play and whether that could create a situation, and it actually became public last year when one of the players talked about trying to two-putt [for his team’s benefit] as opposed to trying to make a putt to win a tournament.

“We went back and forth a few times, but they didn’t change their position. We didn’t really change ours. We had very serious conversations about it, and then without telling us publicly, they withdrew their application.”

Waugh concluded: “I don’t think OWGR’s job is to seek out tours and if they want to re-apply, we’d certainly entertain it.

“We’ve behaved properly. It’s very cordial. It’s not a war. I don’t want to pretend that. They were responsive, too, but they didn’t get an answer that they wanted.”

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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