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Eight-time major champion Tom Watson has issued a rallying call for professional golf’s warring factions to settle their differences and reunite the game.

Plans to consolidate a framework agreement designed at reunifying the sport missed their Masters deadline, with the result that the game remains in a state of rancour and schism as the first men’s major of the season gets under way – ten months after peace plans were first unveiled.

Speaking shortly after participating in The Masters’ honorary starter ceremony alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, 74-year-old Watson shared what he told the assembled former winners during the Champions Dinner on Tuesday night.

Amongst those in attendance were seven LIV golfers.

“We all know golf is fractured with the LIV Tour and the PGA Tour doing the different things they are doing,” said Watson.

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“I got up at the Champions Dinner, and it was really a wonderful event. 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.’

“I got up and 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?”

“There was kind of a pall from the joviality, and it quieted down, and then Ray Floyd got up and it was time to leave.”

Watson added that he hopes those there will take it upon themselves to resolve the matter.

“We all know it’s a difficult situation for professional golf right now,” he said. “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.

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“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. That’s the bottom line. That’s what we want in professional golf, and right now, we don’t have it.”

Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player echoed Watson’s sentiments.

“The best outcome is the best players play against each other all the time,” said Nicklaus. “I talked to Jay [Monahan, PGA Tour commissioner] 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, ‘Okay, 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 added: “It’s a big problem because they paid all these guys to join the LIV Tour fortunes, I mean, beyond one’s comprehension. Now these guys come back and play, I really believe the players, the ones that were loyal, should be compensated in some way or another, otherwise there’s going to be dissension.”

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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