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Stephen Gallacher: Peace in golf at last but healing wounds will not be easy

Merger of LIV, PGA Tour and DP World Tour is good for the game but the players will need time to recover from the bad blood.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

We have peace at last in professional golf but I have no idea how we heal from it all.

If you are struggling to process the shock news LIV Golf, the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour is to merge then you are not alone.

I think I can speak for every member of the three tours when I say we were all stunned at Tuesday’s announcement.

As plot twists go this is right up there in any tale.

DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley spoke to the players on Tuesday night but he didn’t have any additional information to offer to what was outlined in the announcement.

Given how few people seem to have been involved in these discussions it didn’t come as a surprise.

Nobody knew anything – this arrangement was between the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour. LIV Golf was not involved.

When Greg Norman, the public face of the new brand, is kept in the dark about all of this it shouldn’t come as a surprise that players didn’t know either.

PGA Tour commissioner faces some difficult questions from his members

I expect the players, especially on the PGA Tour, will have some big questions for their tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

I’ve listened to key office bearers on the tours discussing issues as if they were politicians since LIV Golf was formed.

Monahan touched on the September 11 attack and the links to Saudi Arabia last year as he asked defecting players to consider whether they had ever had to apologise for being PGA Tour members.

The inference in that comment was clear – and the families of those who died in 2001 have been quick to voice their disgust at the PGA Tour now joining forces.

I expect a few players will be wanting a chat with the commissioner too if they haven’t already.

Monahan has a huge job on his hands as he tries to build bridges as the fallout from all of this between players has been huge.

Making everything rosy in the garden again is going to be the biggest task of all.

Will the loyalists be rewarded?

I look at Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy – two of the best players in the game – and the lengths they went to as defenders of the PGA Tour.

They, along with other players, turned down incredible offers to play for LIV and will now watch as those who did defect are welcomed back into the fold next year having been enriched by leaving.

I don’t know how you square the animosity those who stood by the PGA Tour will feel now.

Do you level up the loyalists with some sort of financial offer? I don’t know but getting everyone back on the same page is going to be difficult.

It’s the biggest elephant in the room which needs to be addressed. I’m just glad I don’t have to take on the task of figuring out how to do it.

Merger will be good for the game

Louis Oosthuizen, Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell and Ratchanon Chantananuwat are among those who defected to LIV Golf.

I’ve been saying consistently how tiring it has been seeing golf on the front pages rather than in the sport section of newspapers so there is part of me which is delighted this whole saga has finally been resolved.

The legal battles are over, the investment is good for the game of golf and we can only be stronger because of this merger.

With my DP World Tour hat on it’s brilliant for our tour to have the support of the two biggest hitters in the game.

The Saudis were never going to back down. They are in golf for the long haul and their commitment was substantial from the outset.

Merger illustrates why DP World Tour partnership with PGA Tour was vital

I can recall meetings taking place in Malta with PIF and our tour about forging stronger links in the past.

They didn’t come to fruition at the time but we have worked together in the past. I’ve played three tour events in Saudi Arabia of which they were backers in the past.

It would be hypocritical of me to suggest their support won’t be welcomed in the long run.

By working with them there will be benefits for all. It can only strengthen our tour and by extension the Challenge Tour.

It makes our decision to form a strategic partnership with the PGA Tour a few years ago the right call.

By doing so we landed a seat at the table for this important development for the game and we’ll be stronger because of it.

That’s not to say we all don’t face a period of uncertainty of course.

We were working on our schedule for 2024 but have had to hit the pause button.

The ramifications of how these bodies will co-exist rather than compete against one another remain unclear.

Will we see a Ryder Cup in Saudi Arabia?

Will we see Sergio Garcia in the Team Europe colours again? Image: PA

This year’s Ryder Cup will remain as is but it will be interesting to see how the 2025 match looks once the dust has settled from this merger.

Could we see Henrik Stenson reinstated as captain after his controversial exit? Will there be returns for Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter?

The rules remain the same. You must be European and a member of the DP World Tour to be eligible.

Ending all current litigation is one thing but you cannot wind the clock back or ignore the legal disputes, fines and suspensions which have already happened.

That much was made clear to the DP World Tour players on Tuesday.

Anyone wishing to return has to acknowledge the consequences of their actions in leaving in the first place.

Looking longer term I wonder if this remarkable development may one day lead to a Ryder Cup match being played in the Middle East?

Events this week make me believe anything is possible now.