Cantlay sees LIV benefit to PGA Tour fans

World No.4 Patrick Cantlay reads as much as anyone in golf, usually deep-think topics such as "Why We Sleep" or the Winston Churchill trilogy.

The internet gossip on LIV Golf, in which his name is often mentioned, is what he leaves to everyone else.

Cantlay knows about the speculation only because of the questions he gets, and he can only assume his name keeps surfacing because he has been neither emotional nor outspoken about the Saudi-funded rival tour.

"Guys, for the most part, seem like they're pretty polarised on this issue, and I view it as it's been a competition for top talent, like any other business," Cantlay said ahead of the Tournament of Champions, the first event of an important year on the PGA Tour.

"But I have no plans to do that as of now, which has been my stance ... the whole time."

There is no denying the effect of this competition from LIV Golf, which already has lured away 13 major champions, even though only four of those major winners are under the age of 35.

One example can be found at Kapalua on Maui this week with the first of the "elevated" tournaments in a PGA Tour schedule designed to bring together the best players up to 17 times a year competing for an average of $US20 million.

"I think that it's been interesting how much it's changed golf," Cantlay said. "Everyone is trying to innovate and make golf better all of a sudden.

"I think that will be a massive benefit for the viewer because I think now more than ever competition is making people evolve and making people grow and think outside the box."

Kapalua is worth only $US15 million because of the 39-man field comprising PGA Tour winners from last year and anyone who reached the Tour Championship. Even so, it's a big upgrade from the $US8.2 million purse a year ago.

"I think we all know where we stand," world No.5 Jon Rahm said. "There's still going to be players that choose to transition to LIV, is my guess. But for a lot of us, I think we see the direction the PGA Tour is going. They're making the necessary changes to adapt to the new age and I think it's better for everybody."

But a new year with its bold new schedule has not kept LIV from the conversation.

Last year Cameron Smith set to PGA Tour record to par at 34 under when he won this tournament by a shot from Rham.

Smith is not defending his title because the PGA Tour suspended the British Open champion when he signed with LIV Golf after last season. Smith and Joaquin Niemann were the last prominent players to join.

Cantlay has another hat to wear this year. He has been added as a player-director on the PGA Tour board for a most important year. For all the upgrades, this year has been described by those in meetings as merely a bridge to get to 2024.