Tiger, McIlroy lead PGA Tour players, meeting on LIV Golf threat
Washington(USA)- Tiger Woods led a US PGA Tour players-only meeting regarding the threat posed by Saudi-backed LIV Golf and how to combat it ahead of this week’s BMW Championship.
Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy and two-time PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas confirmed Tuesday’s gathering on Wednesday. McIlroy said players departed united on a plan of action moving forward.
“The one thing that came out of it, which I think was the purpose, is all the top players on this tour are in agreement and alignment of where we should go going forward,” McIlroy said.
“And that was awesome.”
Several big-name players have left the PGA for the record purses and shorter events of the LIV Golf Series. Hefty guarantees and $25 million purses have attracted stars like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia.
The PGA responded with indefinite bans and raised the purses of several events in hopes of competing with the riches of the Saudi-backed circuit.
Exact details of what players want were not revealed but McIlroy said one key issue from the meeting was having more opportunities for the world’s best golfers to play against each other outside of the majors.
“We need to get the top guys together more often than we do,” McIlroy said. “I’m talking about all in the same tournaments, all in the same weeks.”
McIlroy said for now, the nature of the talks was a matter between the players and PGA Tour leaders.
“I don’t think that’s for a public forum right now,” McIlroy said. “I think that’s between the players and the executives at the tour to try to manage a way forward.”
Woods, a 15-time major champion recovering from leg injuries from a February 2021 car crash, made an effort to appear in person at the meeting ahead of the FedEx Cup playoff event, which tees off Thursday in Wilmington, Delaware.
“It was impactful, and I think it shows how much he cares about the tour,” McIlroy said. “It shows how much he cares about the players coming through and will be the next generation.”
Tiger takes charge
McIlroy made it clear that of all the players in the room, Woods commanded the greatest attention.
“He’s the hero that we’ve all looked up to. McIlroy said that his voice carries further than anyone else’s in the game of golf. “His role is navigating us to a place we all think we should be.
“It’s pretty apparent that whenever we all get in the room, there’s an alpha in there, and it’s not me. He cares a lot.”
Having Woods in the room mattered, Thomas said.
“That was huge. He has been a great kind of leading role in many ways in the game for many of us,” Thomas said.
“He came because it was very important to him. It probably was not something he felt was appropriate to do over Zoom or call in. I think it shows how passionate he is about golf and wants to improve it.”
McIlroy noted the days of selling Woods as the star attraction at events and on telecasts are over.
“Like it or not, they can’t sell Tiger Woods anymore,” McIlroy said. “Yes, they’ve got a bunch of us, and we’re all great players, but we’re not Tiger Woods.
“He has carried the tour for a long, long time… We’re moving into a different era, and we just have to think about things differently.”