Tiger Woods has revealed his frustration at the secretive way in which a potential peace deal in golf’s civil war was agreed and insisted: “That won’t happen again”.

Woods will compete for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery in April in this week’s Hero World Challenge and believes contesting one tournament a month is a realistic target for 2024.

However, the questions in his pre-tournament press conference in the Bahamas were predominantly about the future shape of men’s professional golf after he took on a major role in those discussions by becoming a player-directory on the PGA Tour’s policy board.

The world of golf was stunned when a framework agreement between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) was announced on June 6, with a deadline of December 31 for a deal to be finalised.

“Going back to that, I would say that my reaction was surprised as I’m sure a lot of the players were taken back by it, by what happened so quickly without any input or any information about it, it was just thrown out there,” Woods said.

“We were very frustrated with what happened. We were all taken back by it.

“It happened so quickly without any of our involvement. No one knew. That can’t happen again.

“How do we do that is having six player directors so we control the board and we control what we’re going to do.

“I think Jay (Monahan, PGA Tour commissioner) has been a part of the direction, he understands what happened prior to that can’t happen again and won’t happen again, not with the players that are involved and not with the player directors having the role that we have.”

Woods, who said he totally understood why Rory McIlroy had stood down as a player-director earlier this month, is relishing the opportunity to have a “lasting impact” on the future of the PGA Tour as the future of LIV Golf and the players who joined the breakaway are decided.

“I think there is away in which we can all benefit from team golf, it’s just how do we do it? We’re just trying to figure out that process now,” Woods said.

“We’ve been doing it for months, trying to figure out how that all works, what does that landscape even look like and where do we play and what impact does it have on our PGA Tour schedule?

“As far as a pathway (for LIV players), we’re still working on that. There’s so many different scenarios. That’s why I said there’s a lot of sleepless hours trying to figure that out.

“Everyone involved wants a return, that’s just part of doing deals, but we have to protect the integrity of our Tour and what that stands for going forward.”

Woods has become so involved in his new player-director role that he insisted any conversations about becoming Ryder Cup captain in 2025 would have to take a back seat, but the 47-year-old is still targeting more individual glory.

“What drives me is I love to compete,” added Woods, who revealed he always knew he would need his ankle to be fused or replaced, a process accelerated by his aborted comeback last year.

“There will come a point in time, I haven’t come around to it fully yet, that I won’t be able to win again. When that day comes I’m going to walk away.

“I don’t have any of the ankle pain that I had before with the hardware that’s been placed in my foot, that’s all gone. The other parts of my body, my knee hurts, my back. The forces go somewhere else.

“I’m just as curious as all of you with what’s going to happen. I haven’t done this in a while.

“I think that best scenario (for 2024) would be maybe a tournament a month. I think that’s realistic. The biggest events are one per month. It sets itself up for that.

“Now I need to get myself ready for all that. I think this week is a big step in that direction.”

Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg continued to enjoy a sensational start to his professional career with a first PGA Tour victory in the RSM Classic.

Aberg carded back-to-back rounds of 61 over the weekend at Sea Island to finish 29 under par, four shots clear of Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes.

The 24-year-old only joined the paid ranks in June, but won the final Ryder Cup qualifying event in Switzerland at the start of September and was hailed as a “generational talent” when given a wild card by Europe captain Luke Donald.

Aberg partnered Viktor Hovland to victory in the opening foursomes session in Rome and the same pair also thrashed world number one Scottie Scheffler and five-time major winner Brooks Koepka 9&7 on day two, a record margin for an 18-hole Ryder Cup match.

“I’m super happy. It’s kind of beyond my dreams,” Aberg told NBC after rounding off the win with three birdies in the last four holes.

“It’s really cool. To first off play on the PGA Tour, I have a lot of people to thank for that. It’s been so much fun, six months that I’ll never forget.

“This is what you dream of as a kid. This is the sport that I love and the sport that I’m going to love for a very long time. Watching these events from a very young age is what I’ve done so to see myself win is really cool.

“It validates my skillset and my capabilities. If you told me (I’d achieve) this a couple of months ago I would not have believed you. To be in this position I need to pinch myself in the arm.

“It’s really awesome and I’m so happy for me and my team and all the people that are close to me.”

The victory will take Aberg into the world’s top 50 and secure an invitation to next year’s Masters at Augusta National, his first appearance in a major championship.

Nicolai Hojgaard produced a brilliant final round of 64 to claim his first Rolex Series title in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

The 22-year-old Dane recorded nine birdies and a solitary bogey to finish two shots clear of Ryder Cup team-mates Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood, and overnight leader Matt Wallace.

Hojgaard’s chances suffered a major blow when he dropped a shot on the 12th to briefly fall three behind Fleetwood, but he responded superbly with a run of five straight birdies before surprisingly missing from inside four feet for another on the 18th.

That left Hojgaard on 21 under par, but none of his rivals were able to find an eagle on the last to force a play-off, Fleetwood having crucially three-putted the 17th.

“It means a lot, it’s the sweetest one,” Hojgaard told Sky Sports after claiming the third DP World Tour title of his career.

“So much hard work has been put in over the past couple years – it feels amazing, this is for family and everything they put in over the years. So much hard work going into this, for it to happen like this is unbelievable.

“We know there are a lot of birdies but we have to hit the shots and hole the putts, anything can happen we were just focused on the job today, to walk up 18 knowing there’s a good chance feels good.

“I played some really good golf. I have to say this is the best golf I’ve played in a tournament and the strongest field in my three wins. My game feels good, I felt good before going out and to finish it like this feels good.

“This is the sweetest way to finish the year, I can’t believe we finished on such a high note, I’m definitely going to enjoy this.”

Hojgaard’s joy was tempered by the news that his twin brother Rasmus had narrowly missed out on one of the 10 PGA Tour cards for 2024 on offer to the highest finishers in the Race to Dubai, who were not otherwise exempt.

Rasmus finished 11th on the list, less than 27 points behind Japan’s Ryo Hisatsune, who joined Adrian Meronk, Ryan Fox, Victor Perez, Thorbjorn Olesen, Alexander Bjork, Sami Valimaki, Robert MacIntyre, Matthieu Pavon and Jorge Campillo in earning playing privileges on the US circuit.

“I really wanted him to get that card. He was in a great position,” Nicolai said.

“It came down to a crazy scenario, I think, in the end. I feel sorry for Ras, but he’s going to bounce back. He always does. He’s one of the best golfers I know and he’s going to come back stronger afterwards.”

Defending champion Jon Rahm carded a closing 66 to finish in a tie for fifth on 17 under, with Race to Dubai winner Rory McIlroy another seven strokes back after a 70.

McIlroy had been assured of a fifth money list title before arriving in Dubai and now has his sights set on the six of Seve Ballesteros and Colin Montgomeier’s record tally of eight.

“It’s great,” McIlroy said. “I think over the last 10 years I’ve won eight season-long titles between America and here, so it just shows my level of consistency.

“It’s just about trying to be a little more clinical when I get to those weeks where I have chances to win. I’ve still got a little bit left in the tank. I think I’ve still got a good eight to 10 years left in me where I can play at the top, top level.

“I’d like to think that I’m going to challenge, at least try to get past Seve and then try to get past Monty as well. But it’s certainly a goal of minute for the rest of my career to do something like that. It would mean a lot to me.”

Tiger Woods is set for a return to the PGA Tour by playing in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

Woods underwent ankle surgery in April after withdrawing from The Masters, and has not played competitively since.

The 47-year-old is host of the invitational event at Albany, which begins on November 30.

The TGR Live X account confirmed that Woods will take the 20th and final playing place in the event, being joined by exemptions Justin Rose and Lucas Glover.

Other players set to take part include Jordan Spieth, Matt Fitzpatrick and Viktor Hovland.

England’s Matt Wallace birdied every hole on the back nine as a career-best round of 60 handed him a one-shot lead heading into the final day of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

The 32-year-old started the day seven shots off the pace but made 12 birdies including nine in row from the 10th to catapult himself to 16 under.

That handed him a one-shot advantage over countryman Tommy Fleetwood and another member of Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team in Viktor Hovland, with the playing partners both firing rounds of 66.

Wallace’s nine-hole score of 27, 12 birdies in his round and run of nine consecutive gains all match the best all-time records on the DP World Tour but after heavy rain overnight on Friday meant players could clean and place their ball on the fairways, his round will not officially enter the record books.

He was still delighted with his efforts, however, as he looks for a fifth DP World Tour win to go with the PGA Tour title he won in the Dominican Republic in March.

“What a day, an amazing day,” he told Sky Sports Golf. “I just tried my hardest to get myself back into the tournament. I’m really happy that I’ve been able to do that. Played great.

“At the end, I didn’t even think there was a 59. Honestly I think it helped me a little bit. I just played nicely coming down the stretch, just keep getting one more if I could and I managed to do that.”

After birdies on the second, sixth and eighth, Wallace set off on his remarkable run from the 10th, making eight birdies in a row and knowing that an eagle on the last would see him card just the second 59 in DP World Tour history.

He found sand with his second on the 18th but almost holed out, leaving himself two feet to complete the birdie set on the way home.

“Kind of gutted now actually a little bit,” he added. “Great opportunity to do it. I’ve done it at Moorpark on the West Course which is only a par 68, but to do it out there would have been really special today.

“Ball in hand helps. I had a couple of good lies for up-and-down, but it was fantastic and a good effort for 59.”

A 58-foot putt for eagle on the 14th was the highlight of Fleetwood’s round which also contained six birdies and two bogeys, while Hovland was blemish-free.

“I’m very happy with the fact that you get to the final day of the year and I’m still playing well, still feel fresh and I’m still motivated and in contention,” said Fleetwood.

“I take a lot of pleasure out of that. I think it’s easy to shut off when you get so far down the season but I kind of pride myself on going all the way.

“We’ll see tomorrow. It was great today. Out there playing with one of the best golfers in the world and trying to go toe-to-toe with Viktor. Just look forward to more of it tomorrow. It’s been great so far.”

Dane Jeff Winther was two shots off the lead, one clear of Scot Ewen Ferguson – who carded a 64 – and another Dane in Ryder Cup star Nicolai Hojgaard.

Defending champion Jon Rahm was at 11 under, three shots clear of world number two Rory McIlroy.

Englishman Matt Wallace shot a stunning 60 for his third round at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

The 33-year-old registered 12 birdies in the 12-under-par round, including one on each of his last nine holes, as he moved to the top of the leaderboard.

He had been on for a 59 before completing his final hole in four.

Put to him that he had equalled DP World Tour records for the most birdies made in one round and the most consecutive birdies, Wallace told Sky Sports: “Equalled? Didn’t get it!

“What a day, amazing day. I just tried my hardest to get myself back into the tournament, so I’m really happy I’ve been able to do that and played great.

“At the end there, I didn’t even think it was for a 59, honestly. I think it helped me a little bit.

“I just played really nice coming down the stretch. Just wanted to keep getting one more if I could and I managed to do that.”

Regarding the potential 59, he added: “Yeah, kind of gutted now actually a little bit! Great opportunity to do it.

“I’ve done it at Moorpark on the West Course which is only a par 68, but to do it out there would have been really special today. Ball in hand helps. I had a couple good lies for up-and-down, but it was fantastic and a good effort.”

At the point that he finished, Wallace – 16 under overall – was two shots clear of nearest rival Nicolai Hojgaard of Denmark.

Ryder Cup winner Nicolai Hojgaard produced a brilliant finish to claim a two-shot lead at the halfway stage of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Hojgaard was two over par after four holes of his second round at Jumeirah Golf Estates, but birdied the fifth and seventh and then covered the back nine in just 30 shots to card a superb 66.

The 22-year-old Dane rounded off his day in style with an eagle from six feet on the par-five 18th to reach 11 under par, with Ryder Cup team-mates Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland part of a five-way tie for second on nine under.

Hojgaard, who finished second in the Nedbank Challenge on Sunday, said: “It’s a little like last week, I had a slow start in every round and then I know with every round there’s going to be a run of birdies at some point with where my game is so it’s about staying patient.

“I would like to play the front nine a little bit better at the weekend but I’m very satisfied with how I’ve played these two rounds.

“I trust my game at the moment. It’s been a little bit shaky at times this year but I feel like we’re on a good track at the moment and I have confidence in my shots, the selection of shots and the game plan we put in place every round.

“It would be pretty cool (to win). I feel like that’s the only thing I’ve missed this season but there’s two rounds to go and a lot of really good players in this field so I’m going to keep grinding as much as I can.”

Fleetwood and Hovland both matched Hojgaard’s 66, while Antoine Rozner, Thriston Lawrence and Jens Dantorp also share second place following rounds of 67, 64 and 67 respectively.

“No matter where you are in your career it’s great to be here and have a chance to win this tournament and it’s close to my heart now,” said Fleetwood, who lives in Dubai and has an academy at the venue.

“I always feel like it brings out great winners, great champions, so the ultimate goal is to be one of those and have your name on that trophy.”

Defending champion Jon Rahm, who failed to break par for the first time in 17 rounds in the event on Thursday, bounced back with a 66 which included an eagle on the 18th but was marred by a three-putt bogey on the ninth, his final hole of the day.

“It’s a really good round of golf,” the Masters champion said. “I took advantage of the easier conditions and did what I needed to early on. Five under through nine holes with that eagle on 18 is great and just too bad things cooled off a little bit.

“To three-putt the last just leaves a bit of a sour taste but perspective is a big thing and I told Adam [his caddie], if you look at the scorecard the way it’s intended to be read, starting on one, it was a great finish. I’m just going to remind myself of that.”

World number two Rory McIlroy could only add a 72 to his opening 71 to lie 10 shots off the pace.

“I got off to a decent start again, a couple under through nine and then just (hit) some loose shots coming in,” McIlroy said. “I was trying to make some birdies on the back nine and get something going and I couldn’t. I was just stuck in neutral all day.

“There is a low one out there and obviously I’m going to need a low one to get myself back in the tournament.”

Rory McIlroy felt like “something had to give” as he explained his surprise decision to resign from the PGA Tour’s policy board.

McIlroy cited professional and personal commitments for standing down as a player-director in a letter sent to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

The world number two has been LIV Golf’s most vocal critic and admitted he felt like a “sacrificial lamb” when a shock deal between LIV’s Saudi backers and the PGA Tour and DP World Tour was announced in June.

Speaking after an eventful opening 71 in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, McIlroy told Sky Sports: “I just think I’ve got a lot going on in my life between my golf game, my family and my growing investment portfolio, my involvement in TGL [an indoor golf league], and I just felt like something had to give.

“I just didn’t feel like I could commit the time and the energy into doing that. I don’t mind being busy, but I just like being busy doing my own stuff.

“Something had to give and there’s guys that are on that board that are spending a lot more time and a lot more energy on it than I am. It’s in good hands and I felt like it was the right time to step off.”

Competing for the first time since a career-best performance helped Europe regain the Ryder Cup in Rome, McIlroy carded five birdies and four bogeys in his 71, along with an extraordinary par on the 18th.

His drive on the 650-yard par five bounced off the rocks surrounding a creek which runs the length of the hole and landed in the chip bark off the fairway, from where he pulled his second shot into the creek, only to see it bounce out and on to a bridge.

“I was hoping that my tee shot was going to miss the hazard right but I didn’t exactly think that it would do what it did,” McIlroy, who conceded he was rusty, said.

“And the second shot from the mulch, it just sort of started left on me, and yeah got another stroke of luck by coming back over the bridge.

“I was a bit in two minds about whether to go left and cut it or go right. I felt with the longer club there was a chance of clipping the bridge on the way through. So I took a wedge and just tried to hit it as hard as I could and ended up making a good five.

“The up and down on 17 [from a bunker] and the par on 18 was actually a pretty nice way to end the day.”

Playing partner Jon Rahm was not so fortunate, the defending champion dropping shots on the 17th and 18th to finish level par, five shots off the lead shared by Ryder Cup team-mate Nicolai Hojgaard and the French pair of Julien Guerrier and Matthieu Pavon.

Hojgaard, who was level par at the turn before making five birdies in the next six holes, admitted he had been inspired by being part of Luke Donald’s victorious side in Rome.

“It was huge,” the 22-year-old said.

“Spending time with the best players in the world, fighting for a common goal was amazing, and just being around those guys, seeing what they do, what do I do different, what do I need to work on.

“It gave me a lot of confidence going into the last end of the season here. You want to play with those guys but you also want to beat them.”

Fellow Ryder Cup stars Viktor Hovland, Tommy Fleetwood, Robert MacIntyre and Tyrrell Hatton were part of an eight-strong group on three under par.

Masters champion Jon Rahm admits he only has himself to blame for not being able to deny Rory McIlroy a fifth Race to Dubai title in the final event of the season.

McIlroy was assured of topping the money list when Adrian Meronk and Ryan Fox failed to earn enough points in last week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge to get within 2,000 points of the world number two.

Only 2,000 points are on offer for the winner of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship and McIlroy was already 2,082.53 ahead of nearest rival Rahm, who chose not to compete in Sun City.

Rahm has previously contested just two regular DP World Tour events in 2023, the Ryder Cup counts as a third and this week’s title defence in Dubai therefore fulfils the minimum requirements for DP World Tour membership.

Rahm admitted it was disappointing for fans that the Race to Dubai had already been settled, but admitted: “At the same time, though, it’s mainly my fault.

“He (McIlroy) played great golf. I could have tried to go to Nedbank and get a few more points to give myself a chance this week. He did what he needed to do and I didn’t.”

Despite not having the chance to win the Race to Dubai for a second time, Rahm still prefers the DP World Tour’s format to that of the PGA Tour, which employs a controversial handicap system in the FedEx Cup.

The player who earns the most points throughout the year begins the season-ending Tour Championship on 10 under par, the second-highest on eight under and so on, on a sliding scale down to the players in 26th to 30th who start on level par.

“I’m not a big fan of the FedEx Cup finals. I’ve said that many times,” Rahm added. “It’s the only sport when you get to the finals, you give somebody an advantage.

“You don’t see whoever had a better record in the Champions League finals start with a 1-0 goal advantage, that just doesn’t happen.

“I would be a bigger fan of somehow point restructuring to where if you win the tournament, like it used to be with the top five going to East Lake, if they won (the Tour Championship) they would win the FedEx Cup.

“At the same time, if you play as good as Rory has and you’ve built up the lead, you’ve earned it. Like I said earlier, I had the option of playing more events, tournaments and trying to earn more points. I just didn’t.

“I think this format is more fair to the better player, whoever played better throughout the year. I think the one that they have in the FedEx Cup right now would be probably more exciting for the viewers. Obviously it all depends what you prefer.”

Rahm has a remarkable record in the DP World Tour Championship, winning it on his debut in 2017 and again in 2019 and 2022, with his worst finish in four appearances being a tie for fourth in 2018.

“It’s something I look forward to and to me it’s a great way to end the year,” Rahm said. “One last competition before we get to the holiday season and kind of get our mind off golf for a little bit. Hopefully I can win it one more time.

“I couldn’t really pinpoint one thing why I’ve had success here. I’m sure the number people can tell you why statistically I’m better, but I think I just happened to play really good on the weeks that I’m here.”

Jon Rahm has backed Rory McIlroy’s decision to resign from the PGA Tour policy board and has no interest in replacing his Ryder Cup team-mate.

The news was revealed by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in a memo to members late on Tuesday, with McIlroy citing “professional and personal commitments” for standing down as a player-director.

Hours earlier, the world number two insisted progress was being made in talks over the future of men’s professional golf, but a fear that “loose lips sink ships” meant it was being kept under wraps.

McIlroy has been LIV Golf’s most vocal critic and admitted he felt like a “sacrificial lamb” when a shock deal between LIV’s Saudi backers and the PGA Tour and DP World Tour was announced in June.

The PGA Tour are now also assessing potential funding from alternative private equity sources and McIlroy was asked if he enjoyed being part of such discussions during a press conference ahead of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

“Not particularly, no,” McIlroy said. “Not what I signed for when I went on the board. But the game of professional golf has been in flux for the last two years.”

Asked on Wednesday if he would be interested in replacing McIlroy, Rahm said: “Absolutely no chance.

“I’ve been asked a couple times if I have any interest, and I’m not going to spend, I don’t know how many meetings they have, but they are six, seven-hour plus long. I’m not here for that.

“As regards to Rory, he’s obviously been put in a situation where a lot has been expected of him, and I don’t know the exact reason why he left the board.

“But I certainly wouldn’t blame somebody like him to just want to focus a bit more on his game and his family and enjoy the bit of time he’s truly earned. Again, it’s a big commitment for somebody to be part of it.”

McIlroy first joined the PGA Tour’s player advisory council in 2019 and went on to serve as its chairman in 2021, roles which Rahm feels may have had an impact on McIlroy’s on-course performance.

“I think it is a significant commitment, so it could have an effect,” the Masters champion said.

“It’s not only the meetings. It’s the phone calls and the players wanting to talk to you. So those hours you spent on the golf course are a little bit busier.

“So I think it could hinder a little bit, and there’s a reason probably why I can’t recall any great player being a full-time board member and winning tournaments and majors at the same time, at least in recent history.”

Announcing the news, Monahan praised McIlroy’s commitment to the PGA Tour in a memo sent to the Northern Irishman’s fellow players.

“During his tenure, Rory’s insight has been instrumental in helping shape the success of the Tour and his willingness to thoughtfully voice his opinion has been especially impactful,” Monahan wrote.

“Given the extraordinary time and effort that Rory – and all of his fellow player directors – have invested in the Tour during this unprecedented, transformational period in our history, we certainly understand and respect his decision to step down in order to focus on his game and his family.”

The remaining player-directors – Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay, Charley Hoffman, Peter Malnati and Webb Simpson – will elect a successor to serve McIlroy’s unexpired term, which runs until the end of 2024.

Rory McIlroy has resigned from his player director role on the PGA Tour policy board.

World number two McIlroy had spoke with the media on Tuesday ahead of the DP World Tour Championship event in Dubai about ongoing discussions to shape the future of men’s professional golf, but admitted he did not enjoy being on the inside of those talks.

The Framework Agreement between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – which blinded players when it was announced in June – was due to be finalised by the end of the year, although meeting that deadline now appears unlikely.

McIlroy, who was a key figure in the PGA Tour’s battle against the threat of LIV golf, has now tendered his resignation after two years on the board.

“Citing personal and professional commitments, Rory McIlroy has notified the PGA Tour policy board that he is resigning his position as a player director,” a PGA Tour statement read.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in a memo sent to players on Tuesday evening: “During his tenure, Rory’s insight has been instrumental in helping shape the success of the Tour and his willingness to thoughtfully voice his opinion has been especially impactful.

“Given the extraordinary time and effort that Rory – and all of his fellow player directors – have invested in the Tour during this unprecedented, transformational period in our history, we certainly under and respect his decision to step down in order to focus on his game and his family.”

In addition to serving on the board since 2021, McIlroy had also spent the previous three years as a member of the player advisory council.

The five-year stint of the Northern Irishman across both roles encompassed not only the emergence of LIV golf, but also the Covid-19 pandemic.

When quizzed about the future of men’s professional golf on Tuesday, McIlroy insisted progress was being made in talks, but alluded to the difficulty of being a player director.

“Not particularly, no,” McIlroy replied, when asked if it was enjoyable being in key discussions.

“Not what I signed for when I went on the board. But the game of professional golf has been in flux for the last two years.”

McIlroy did arrive in Dubai for the season-ending tournament already assured of winning a fifth Race to Dubai title and will begin his first round at the DP World Tour Championship later on Wednesday.

Rory McIlroy insists progress is being made in talks over the future of men’s professional golf, but a fear that “loose lips sink ships” means it is being kept under wraps.

The Framework Agreement between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which blindsided players when it was announced in June, was due to be finalised by the end of the year.

Meeting that deadline appears unlikely, with the PGA Tour also understood to be assessing potential funding from alternative private equity sources. Fenway Sports Group – owners of Liverpool and the Boston Red Sox – are reported to be one of the interested parties.

McIlroy, who is one of the PGA Tour’s player directors, knows better than most what is happening behind the scenes, but acknowledged any deal with the PIF would need to be approved by the Unites States government.

“I think if you were in the middle of it, you would see that there’s a path forward,” McIlroy said in his press conference ahead of the DP World Tour Championship.

“It’s just that no one on the outside has any details, right. Loose lips sink ships, so we are trying to keep it tight and within walls. I’m sure when there’s news to tell, it will be told.

“I think getting something done sooner rather than later is a good thing. Because you know, even if we get a deal done, it doesn’t mean that it’s actually going to happen.

“That’s up to the United States government at that point and whether the Department of Justice think that it’s the right thing to do or whether (it’s) anti-competitive or whatever.

“Even if a deal does get done, it’s not a sure thing. So yeah, we are just going to have to wait and see. But in my opinion, the faster something gets done, the better.”

Asked if he was enjoying being on the “inside” in such discussions, McIlroy joked: “Not particularly, no.

“Not what I signed for when I went on the board. But the game of professional golf has been in flux for the last two years.”

McIlroy arrived in Dubai for the season-ending event already assured of winning a fifth Race to Dubai title, leaving him three behind the record tally of Colin Montgomerie.

But despite that accolade and contributing a career-best performance as Europe regained the Ryder Cup, McIlroy was disappointed at failing to win a first major title since 2014.

The world number two birdied the first hole in the final round of the US Open to tie for the lead, but did not make another birdie at Los Angeles Country Club and finished a shot behind Wyndham Clark.

Asked to judge his season, McIlroy said: “Yeah, probably give it a seven out of 10.

“Played good golf. I had the two wins. I had my best-ever Ryder Cup, which feels like a win to me, especially coming off the back of Whistling Straits (where Europe lost 19-9 in 2021).

“So I’ve been happy with the year. If I looked back on one thing, I’ll rue that miss at LA. I had a great opportunity there to pick up another major and I didn’t.

“But I’m still not going to let that take away from the fact that it’s been another really consistent, solid year with some really good performances.

“I’m feeling like my game is in as good a shape as it’s ever been throughout my, whatever it is, 16, 17-year career.

“I’m happy with that and will try to finish this year off on a high and play well this week and reset and get ready for 2024.”

Tommy Fleetwood is relishing the “pretty surreal” chance to write his name into the history books with a third straight victory in the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Fleetwood defeated Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult on the first play-off hole at the Gary Player Country Club in November 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic meant he had to wait until 2022 to defend the title.

A closing 67 on a weather-affected final day gave the Ryder Cup star a one-shot win over New Zealand’s Ryan Fox and both men are back in Sun City 12 months on to seek victory in the 66-man field.

Fleetwood, who can join an elite group which includes the likes of Tiger Woods and Sir Nick Faldo in winning the same DP World Tour event three times in succession, said: “Ever since the first time I came it’s got a very special feeling to it driving into the gates of Sun City and it’s such an historic event for a lot of us.

“For my generation I guess, and for people older and younger too, but I remember it as the Million Dollar Challenge so it’s always had such a high value.

“And yet to be going for a third win seems pretty surreal, but we’ll see what we can do.”

Victory last year ended a three-year winless run for Fleetwood and the world number 15 again arrived in South Africa seeking a first win of the season.

“I’ve played really well,” said Fleetwood, who lost in a play-off in June’s RBC Canadian Open and posted eight other top-10s in 2023.

“You should always look at the positives and I think this year has been arguably my most consistent year.

“I am very happy with how I’ve been playing. Yes, there’s not been a win, but I’ve been very, very close. Things could have gone either way in certain events. [I’ve] not won yet, but there’s still a couple of events to go for the rest of the year.”

World number eight Max Homa is the top ranked player in the field and has been making the most of the chance to see the local wildlife, along with Ryder Cup team-mate Justin Thomas.

“The safari is life changing,” Homa said. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to explain this to my friends and family. I would never do it justice.

“A running joke between Justin and I is that if I was a guide it would be all made up and just tremendously terrible. But it’s just so cool to spend some time away from the golf course and experience kind of what the world has to offer.

“When I was growing up I watched this tournament and tons of DP World Tour events that I always wanted to play in. With the previous PGA Tour schedule it would be wild to try and do this. You would have to battle jet lag from tournament to tournament.

“But now, with a real off-season for us, I made it a point to play at least one over here. To be able to get a spot here and play has been a dream.”

Much has been said about Jamaica’s sports tourism product, especially as those in the tourism industry continues to tap into the potential of golf to attract visitors to the island.

This, as according to the International Association of Golfing Tour Operators (IAGTO), the global golf tourism market, where people take trips with the main purpose of playing the sport, is valued over US$17 billion.

Additionally, it is said that an estimated 56 million people play golf worldwide, most of whom are in the United States and Canada alone, making North America the leading market in terms of the sport contribution to that economy.

It is with that in mind that Angela Bennett, Jamaica Tourist Board’s Regional Director for Canada is of the view that the recently-concluded Baxter Media-sponsored Sandals Canadian Travel Advisors Golf Tournament, is testament to what can be achieved through the sport.

The 27th edition of the two-day tournament attracted 61 travel advisors, who beyond basking in the fun, frolic and excitement, will ensure that Jamaica’s golfing and, by extension, sports tourism stock in North America continues to rise.

“This is a major achievement for us because golf is a big volume driver for earnings for Jamaica. It also targets a specific sport because we have so many golf courses in Jamaica, in Montego Bay alone, we have almost six golf courses and then there is the picturesque Sandals Golf and Country club among others in this region. From the tournament, we had our top producing tour operators like Air Canada, WestJet, Red Tag, they're all focused on selling sports tourism like golf,” Bennett said.

“So, to have them here for a week, there's a lot of networking going on, a lot of business and new airline partners coming in. This is another focus area for us to drive that sort of niche market to Jamaica and it's really a sport that encourages a long stay because these travellers usually like to golf around,” she added.

Bennett pointed out that the longstanding partnership between Sandals and Baxter Media in hosting the travel advisors tournament, serves as a springboard on which the JTB is aiming to launch strategies to drive more growth in Jamaica’s sports tourism product.

“We are known for sports in Jamaica, of course, Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and all the other wonderful athletes, so it encourages us to build packages around golfing and promoting the sport, not only golf but all the other sports in Jamaica and this is a significant part of our strategy,” she shared.

“So, we have basketball that we do every year in Montego Bay, and we bring down some of our international stars to engage with the local talent. We also have Reggae Marathon in Negril where we're bringing down runners from Canada and across the world and while here, they experience the different offerings that Jamaica has in the sports field,” Bennett noted.

To that end, she pointed to the importance of capitalizing on the country’s sporting brand, particularly where the likes of Bolt, Fraser-Pryce and other sporting stalwarts are concerned.

“We always go where our athletes are, and sometimes we build a whole strategy around our athletes because just the way we know Bob Marley and everywhere in the world you go, they know Bob Marley, they know Usain Bolt and they know all our other track star because we shine, and we are at a superior level in this field. So, we're always looking to build a strategy around them to create a lot of awareness for Jamaica through them and through the work they're doing internationally,” Bennett ended.

American Andrew Arft led all three days to capture the 56th Jamaica Open Golf Championship at the Tryall Golf Course in Hanover.

Arft posted scores of six under par 66, even par 72, and one under par 71, for a combined score of seven under par 209. He expressed pleasure with the win while giving credit to his caddy Jason Richards for helping him to win the event on his first attempt.

He also pointed out that his late decision to enter the championship was justified, as he pocketed the US$20,000 top prize.

Second place went to Dominic Piccirillo, who was just one shot back on 210. He posted under par scores of 71, 71 and 68 for all three days, while Josh Anderson was relegated to third place on 211 along with Blake Wagoner (72,70, 69).

The top six golfers in the professional category are all Americans.

Jamaica's Sean Morris roared back from second place on the second day to take the amateur section ahead of Oshae Haye. They were joint leaders on the first day.

Morris ended on 17 over par 233 (75, 82, 76), while Haye was two strokes back on 235 (75, 78, 82). Junior player Trey Williams grabbed third place on 245 (78, 81, 82).

Chris Richards of Trinidad & Tobago won the Senior Pro section for the second year running with a total score of two over par 218 (70, 76, 72). Second went to Canada's Kent Fukushima on 222 (74, 78, 70), while Jamaica's Ian Campbell was third on 240 (80, 79, 81).

The final category, the Senior Amateur section went to Canada's Robert Sterling who had a combined score of 244 for the three days. Jamaica's Dr. Mark Newnham and Dr. William Lee were second and third with scores of 245 and 250, respectively.

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