Two things are clear: the Players Championship has been diminished, and the PGA Tour is reeling

When Jay Monahan met with the media ahead of this week’s Players Championship, the flagship tournament for the PGA Tour for which Monahan is the commissioner, two things became apparent.

First, with many of the LIV golfers in the world able to play in the four major championships, the Players Championship might be the tournament that is impacted the most by the absence of the LIV Tour players like Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka. The narrative that the Players is the fifth major isn’t very strong when the majors are actually letting the LIV Golf and the PGA Tour players play together, but the Players Championship isn’t allowing that.

The second thing that is crystal clear is that the PGA Tour is still in trouble two years into the battle with the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Tour. Monahan answered plenty of questions, but didn’t, in reality, give many answers.

Monahan said that the negotiations with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund over a potential investment deal are still ongoing, but his unwillingness to offer details about the negotiations or what a potential deal will look like are hardly the things that disgruntled and frustrated golf fans want to hear.

What fans want is a deal. They want the talk of negotiations and player defections and money and money and more money to go away. Monahan basically told those fans that the battle will continue and there is no deadline for a deal. And there is certainly no guarantee that PGA Tour players will ignore overtures from LIV in the coming months.

Monahan talked about the fans, but when push came to shove, he talked more about what is best for the members of the PGA Tour. The fans have been rising with a more unified voice of frustration and are showing that frustration through a drop in television ratings for PGA Tour events. Only the American Express with its amateur winner Nick Dunlap has seen a ratings increase among tour events this year. Fans still don’t seem to be a priority.

2024 Players Championship
2024 Players Championship

Viktor Hovland focuses on the 10th hole during the first round of The Players Championship Thursday, March 14, 2024, at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Will fans stay or revolt?

The thinking is probably that the fans are the fans and they will continue to be fans, and that they won’t abandon the game they love over two years of money grabs and insults. That might be dangerous thinking as the Tour continues negotiations with LIV, especially given that the PIF seems to have greater leverage than the PGA Tour because of money.

That was obvious in December when the PGA Tour’s Dec. 31 deadline for a deal with PIF grew closer and closer. The Tour did make a $3 billion deal with investment group Strategic Sports Group, but LIV poached Rahm from the PGA Tour with a deal of more than half a billion dollars, showing that its money advantage perhaps overruled the PGA Tour’s arguments of history and tradition or its SSG deal.

Members of the newly established 13-member board of directors of the new PGA Tour Enterprises need to understand that every week that goes by without a deal is another opportunity for fans to become a little more fed up with the constant noise and bickering between the two rival tours.

Fans honestly don’t care about player equity in the new structure of the PGA Tour. I’m not sure fans really care whether the top 10 players in the world all play together every week, just that they are all united on a single tour and have a chance to play together more often.

If this sounds like a condemnation of what the Tour is doing, that’s only partly true. The LIV players elevated guaranteed money to their greatest goal in the game. They took the money knowing there would be no world ranking points and there would be no easy path back to either the PGA Tour or the DP World Tour.

And they now play in a certain amount of obscurity, because the television ratings for that tour are worse than the worst PGA Tour event. Even adding Rahm, one of the great players in the game at the moment, hasn’t changed the television story for LIV. As Scottie Scheffler said this week, the splintering of professional golf came from the LIV players leaving, not the PGA Tour players staying.

So fans could walk away from Monahan’s press conference Tuesday with little hope that things are going to change in the coming weeks. And the prospect of federal intervention that could delay any final deal by a year or more has to be depressing for all parties involved.

In the end, it isn’t promises of an accelerated negotiation or $3.6 million first-prize checks or player equity fans want. Fans want a deal and for the rancor to go away. Without a deal, the fans might go away.

Larry Bohannan is the golf writer for The Desert Sun. You can contact him at (760) 778-4633 or at Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter at @larry_bohannan. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Desert Sun.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek