Masters brings together players divided by PGA Tour and LIV circuit

Scottie Scheffler reacts to missing a birdie putt on the 18th hole of The Players Championship. — Photosport
Scottie Scheffler reacts to missing a birdie putt on the 18th hole of The Players Championship. — Photosport

AUGUSTA, Georgia: World number one Scottie Scheffler comes into this week’s Masters as a unifying force in a divided golf world, playing the type of game that has grabbed the attention of fans everywhere.

As the PGA Tour and the Saudi-backed LIV circuit try to iron out an agreement, the reality that fans are the big losers in their feud is sinking in. The majors have always attracted elite fields but the buzz around this Masters has been dialled up several notches with most of the world’s top players set to go toe-to-toe for the first time since the British Open last July.

“It’s going to be great to see all these great players together,” said twice major winner and broadcaster Andy North. “That’s what we want to see as fans and as broadcasters, to be able to get the best against the best.

“To get (Jon) Rahm and (Brooks) Koepka and these guys here to play on the same golf course at the same time as everybody else, I think is really important for our game.” Lured to the breakaway circuit by huge pay-days, LIV headliners Rahm, Koepka and others poached from the PGA Tour have been happily counting their money but largely out of the golfing spotlight.

With those big-name departures the PGA Tour has lost currency, seriously diminishing their product but now a golfer of some consequence is starting to emerge from the chaos. Scheffler is not an unknown commodity. He has won a major and seven other PGA Tour titles, including two this season.

The 27-year-old American is a modest man — when he won the 2022 Masters he said his big splurge was a hot tub — but he is widely seen as the best golfer on the planet by a mile, even by world number two Rory McIlroy.

Statistically, he has entered Tiger Woods territory. McIlroy said at the end of last year that Scheffler was having perhaps the best ball-striking season of all time, which would top Woods’s 2000 campaign. This season he is posting even better results.

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