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'Caveat' for LIV players to return to PGA: Scheffler

AP PHOTO

Scottie Scheffler has added his name to the list of prominent PGA Tour players who don't think members of LIV Golf should be allowed to return as if "nothing ever happened".

The world No.1 believes any merger between the rival tours should include a pathway back for LIV golfers - but not without some sort of penalty.

Scheffler pointed to the "different levels" of defections to LIV over the past two years.

"You had some guys that left our tour and then sued our tour," Scheffler told the Golf Channel from Scottsdale, Arizona, where he is the two-time defending champion of the WM Phoenix Open which begins on Thursday.

"That wasn't really in great taste.

"Then you had some other guys that just left and they wanted to do something different.

"Everybody made their own decision and I have no bad blood towards the guys that left.

"But ... it wouldn't be a very popular decision if they just came back like nothing ever happened."

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy - once the rebel tour's fiercest critic - recently did an about-face, saying LIV players who wish to return to the PGA Tour should be able to do so without sanction.

Scheffler joins a group including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler that have expressed doubts over a "direct" route back for LIV players.

"There should be a pathway back for them, but they definitely shouldn't be able to come back without any sort of contribution to the tour, if that makes sense," Scheffler said.

The PGA Tour still is in negotiations with Saudi Arabia's public investment fund (PIF), which financially backed LIV and got several big names to break away from the tour in 2022 and 2023.

Those players were suspended indefinitely by the PGA, most recently world No.3 Jon Rahm of Spain, who signed with LIV in December.

Scheffler said "most of the players" who stuck with the tour share his opinion about LIV defectors.

"We remained loyal to a tour, a tour that was loyal to us," Scheffler said.

"I built my entire career here on the PGA Tour and I wasn't willing to leave it. I dreamt of playing on this tour.

"Some of the guys that left, maybe that wasn't for them. But if they want a pathway back ... it definitely shouldn't just be coming back in the first week they want to come back and play.

"There should be some sort of caveat to them getting back on our tour."