PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- With TV ratings falling so far this season, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy said Wednesday that he wants the "train to speed up" regarding the PGA Tour finalizing a deal with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund to reunify men's professional golf.

"These bigger signature events that we tried to create, they worked last year," McIlroy said at TPC Sawgrass, the site of this week's 50th Players Championship. "The ratings were up, and it was great. But you look at the ratings this year for those events in the United States and everything's down."

According to published reports, TV ratings for the final round of last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Florida, where world No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler ran away with a 5-stroke victory, were down 30% compared to the final round in 2023. TV ratings for final-round coverage of the Genesis Invitational on Feb. 18 -- when 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama returned to the winner's circle -- were down about 5%.

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The PGA Tour created the eight signature events, with purses of at least $20 million and smaller fields to bring together its best golfers more often. The remaining four signature events are the RBC Heritage, Wells Fargo Championship, Memorial Tournament and Travelers Championship.

"For whatever reason, [the signature events] are not quite capturing the imagination this year compared to last year," McIlroy said.

The Sports Business Journal reported that amateur Nick Dunlap's improbable victory at the American Express in January was the lone PGA Tour event this season that had increased viewership compared to 2023.

"It's sort of been the same across the board with some of these bigger events," McIlroy said. "I think fans are getting fatigued of it, and I think the more and more we go down this route, the more people are just going to tune in four times a year [for the major championships], which is no good for anyone -- no good for golf. That just can't happen, so we need to figure it out."

On Tuesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan told reporters that he and partners from Strategic Sports Group met with PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan in Saudi Arabia in January and that talks with the PIF had "accelerated." The PIF is financing the rival LIV Golf League, which has poached several top players from the PGA Tour, including reigning major championship winners Jon Rahm (Masters) and Brooks Koepka (PGA Championship).

McIlroy believes damage to the sport's reputation will continue as long as the best players in the world continue competing on different circuits.

"You fight for so long and then you just get fatigued and tired of it," McIlroy said. "I think we're all sort of sick of the fighting at this point. That's why I've been so adamant that we need to figure out a way to unify the game, get everyone back together and all move forward. That's easier said than done, but I think that would be the best for all of us."