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LIV players’ returns to PGA, DP World tours promises to be a thorny issue

The path back to the PGA Tour has not yet been determined.

Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, speaking to reporters Tuesday after the shocking news that the circuit is joining forces with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, reiterated that the two sides have reached only a “framework agreement” and that key details – including how players who left the Tour for LIV Golf could be welcomed back – are not yet certain.

In the release announcing the move, the Tour said that it will work with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf and the DP World Tour to establish a “fair and objective” process for those who wish to re-apply for tour membership. Players would have to wait until the end of the 2023 season and meet the terms of re-admission that are “consistent with each tour’s policies.”

Monahan said that although reentry has been discussed, a solution between the two sides has not been reached.

“At this point, it’s reapplying for membership at some point after the end of 2023,” Monahan said, “and that’s something that I’ll address in the future, certainly, once we get through the definitive” part of the deal.

How the Tour handles the LIV players’ re-admission figures to be a thorny issue among the membership.

Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson were among those who received signing bonuses with the rival league that were reportedly in the $100-$200 million range. It is unclear if they’d have to pay some sort of fine in order to return. Meanwhile, some of the Tour’s marquee players, such as Jon Rahm and Hideki Matsuyama, spurned the Saudis by turning down enormous sums of money. Monahan said that he was confident those Tour players made the “right decision,” but was not in a position Tuesday to explain why – in other words, their future earning potential.

However, when asked whether the Tour stars could be compensated in a way that is commensurate to what they could have earned by bolting for LIV, Monahan said: “What you’re talking about is an equalization over time, and I think that’s a fair and reasonable concept.”