[PHOTO: Andy Lyons]

The professional game’s civil war continues to suck a considerable amount of oxygen in the golf space, and the majors have proved no respite from the conflict. That includes this week, as Jimmy Dunne – one of the architects behind the PGA Tour’s surprise and controversial agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund – resigned from his position with the tour’s policy board, citing a lack of “meaningful progress” on a deal and believing his role had become “superfluous”. But one man in the heart of the schism’s fire had no appetite for fanning those flames any further.

That would be Tiger Woods. Despite his limited playing schedule the 15-time major winner continues to be golf’s predominant figure inside the ropes and out. Last year, Woods was given a permanent role on the policy board, the result of a petition from tour players seeking new governance and transparency measures following the June 6 agreement. His position has only been strengthened in the ensuing year, as Woods was named vice-chairman of the newly created, for-profit PGA Tour Enterprises and is one of the few individuals chosen to the transaction team that will be negotiating with PIF.

However, Woods is notorious for playing things close to his chest, and that was no different in his meeting with the media on Tuesday ahead of the PGA Championship. Woods did not agree with Dunne’s statement about the lack of progress, yet did not offer any details or clarification on the matter.

“I think we’re working on negotiations with PIF. It’s ongoing; it’s fluid; it changes day to day,” Woods said. “Has there been progress? Yes. But it’s an ongoing negotiation, so a lot of work ahead for all of us with this process, and so we’re making steps and it may not be giant steps, but we’re making steps.”

Woods was then asked what specific things are holding up a potential deal, Woods offered no comment. When a follow-up inquired if he had a personal desire to partner with Saudi Arabia, Woods replied, “I’m personally involved in the process.”

Woods did say he was surprised by Dunne’s decision and timing, and was complimentary of Dunne’s work, calling it “incredible” and “great”. But as for Dunne’s insinuation that the players now held too much control, Woods hit back.

“The PGA Tour is for the players and by the players,” Woods said. “So, we have an influence and there’s roles for the player directors and there’s roles for the independents. We’re trying to make the PGA Tour the best it can be day-in and day-out. That’s one of the reasons why we have arguments and we have disagreements, but we want to do what’s best for everyone in golf and the tour. Without those kind of conflicts I don’t think there’s going to be that much – the progress is not going to be there. So it’s been good.”

Dunne’s resignation comes less than a week after Rory McIlroy acknowledged his bid to rejoin the policy board was blocked by a subset of board members, although McIlroy was later named to the tour’s transaction team. Towards the end of his press conference, Woods was asked if the constant drama was hurting golf’s relationship with fans.

“I think the fans are probably as tired as we are of the talk of not being about the game of golf and about not being about the players,” Woods said. “It’s about what LIV is doing, what we’re doing, players coming back, players leaving, the fans just want to see us play together. How do we get there is to be determined.”