Golf-Simpson feels PGA Tour membership ‘more unified’ amid LIV threat

(Reuters) – LIV Golf has attracted some of the game’s biggest names but former U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson said on Wednesday the bleeding of players from the PGA Tour is all but done and the U.S.-based circuit is now a more tight-knit group.

The breakaway circuit launched in June and counts 12 major champions among its players but the PGA Tour, in a bid to curb the ongoing threat, has since made sweeping changes including increased purses and an earnings assurance program.

“I feel like we didn’t just survive but we came out I think more unified and stronger and with different players’ ideas to make the Tour better and to make the Tour more competitive, more desirable to play,” Simpson told reporters ahead the PGA Tour’s season-opening Fortinet Championship in Napa, California.

“A lot of good came from it, but certainly you don’t want to lose players like Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau and Bubba Watson.

“Those guys have done a lot for the game of golf. But I’m not going to get into whether I thought it was a good play or bad play, I just don’t think it’s good for the game of golf.”

Simpson, elected in February by the PGA Tour’s membership to be co-chairman of the Player Advisory Council, said there has been improved communication between players and the tour and that the circuit is not only listening but responding.

While LIV Golf, which has already announced a 14-tournament schedule for 2023, has joined some of its players in their anti-trust lawsuit against the PGA Tour and applied for recognition in golf’s world rankings, Simpson just wants to move on.

“I’m kind of ready for it to die down. I don’t think it will for the next few years in the sense of they want world ranking points and there’s a few other issues still to be determined,” said Simpson, a seven-times winner on the PGA Tour.

“But I think for the most part we’ve seen the guys leave who are going to leave. You might have one or two more here or there.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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