Patrick Cantlay fires back at reporter over 'paying off players' question

Patrick Cantlay has given his verdict on what the PGA Tour's $3bn deal with Strategic Sports Groups means for golf fans worldwide. 

Ben Smith's picture
Fri, 2 Feb 2024
Patrick Cantlay fires back at reporter over 'paying off players' question

Patrick Cantlay believes it's unfair to suggest the PGA Tour's $3bn deal with Strategic Sports Group is essentially paying off players who rejected the advances of the LIV Golf League.

Cantlay has consistently found himself in the headlines over the last six months as the North American circuit sought to ratify the framework agreement with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

He has been accused of attempting to grab power, a notion he has found ridiculous and one that fellow policy board member Jordan Spieth found hilarious

A deal of this magnitude was always going to be complicated given the looming scrutiny of the U.S. government. 

Not to mention there are clearly some PGA Tour stars who perhaps don't want LIV's financiers involved, according to the latest comments by the aforementioned Spieth

As for Cantlay, he suggested the SSG deal is hopefully a step in the right direction to rewarding long-suffering golf fans. 

The American golfer spoke about the deal for the first time after firing an opening 8-under 64 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

He was asked by a reporter: "Is it too simple to say that half of the investment is just paying off a bunch of players?"

Cantlay replied: "I don't think that really, really is..."

The reporter clarified: "That's harsh, I get it."

Cantlay continued: "I don't think that's really a fair characterization. I think it's bringing the PGA Tour into the future."

He explained the Tour has made sizeable changes over the last two years, such as attaining more elite fields more frequently through the signature events with bumper prize purses. 

Cantlay said: "You know, this event you see has the strongest field that it's had in a number have years and I think that's fantastic, I think that's what the fans want to see.

"I really hope that this deal brings about change that really makes it better for the fans because I think they've suffered a lot over the last couple years and I hope that the product will be better for them going forward.

"I think everyone's divided" 

World number two Rory McIlroy appeared to finally complete his U-turn on LIV Golf by saying the breakaway tour players shouldn't be punished if they wish to return to the PGA Tour. 

As far as McIlroy is concerned, a diminished PGA Tour and LIV league is not good for anyone. 

He said any win going forward without beating the likes of Jon Rahm et al is now 'cheapened'. 

Cantlay, asked about McIlroy's comments, replied: "I think everyone's divided. Like I've said, over the last couple years I've been pretty the same. I mean, people are welcome to make the choices that they'd like to make.

"It's a personal choice, it has been. And as far as coming back, we'll see. It's up to a group of us.

"I know players feel all over the board on that issue and so my job as a player-director is to represent the entire membership.

"So if something like that were to come down the road, I'm sure we would have to have a robust conversation around that topic."

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