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Much of the talk surrounding The Players this week concerns those who aren’t even at TPC Sawgrass. 

It would be no mean feat for Scottie Scheffler to follow up his Arnold Palmer Invitational victory by defending the title he won so dominantly last year at Ponte Vedra Beach.

But while the PGA Tour retains its tagline that this is the “best field in golf”, the consensus is that world No.1 Scheffler’s competition is not as fierce as it could be without LIV Golf stars like Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka and Joaquin Niemann.

• Jay Monahan issues update on PGA Tour’s PIF talks

• Billy Horschel: PGA Tour must change rules for LIV golfers

For the second successive year, LIV golfers are ineligible for the PGA Tour’s flagship event because of their defections to the Saudi-backed series.

The talent pool in golf remains divided and there is seemingly no clear end to the split after Tour commissioner Jay Monahan gave scarce detail about ongoing talks with the Saudi Public Investment Fund bankrolling the LIV league.

Scheffler sympathises with fans who are caught up in the chaos, but thinks the blame should be pointed at LIV players for fracturing the men’s professional game.

“If the fans are upset, then look at the guys that left,” Scheffler said. “We had a tour, we were all together and the people that left are no longer here. At the end of the day, that’s where the splintering comes from.

“As far as our tour goes, like I said, we’re doing our best to create the best product for the fans, and that’s really where we’re at.”

• Brandel Chamblee reacts to LIV golfers missing PLAYERS

• Rory McIlroy told to make big change in bid to win more majors

Scheffler made it clear that has no problems, however, with Rahm and co. for jumping ship for the LIV series.

“If guys want to go take the money and leave, then that’s their decision,” Scheffler said. “I’m not going to sit here and tell guys not to take hundreds of millions of dollars. If that’s what they think is best for their life, then go do it.

“I’m not going to sit here and force guys to stay on our tour. But at the end of the day, this is where I want to be, and we’re continuing to grow what we’re doing, and what they’re doing is not really a concern to me.”

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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