WASHINGTON (AFP) — 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 saying 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, where hefty guarantees and $25 million purses have attracted such stars as 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 between the executives at the tour to try to sort of manage a way forward.”
Woods, a 15-time major champion who is recovering from leg injuries suffered in a February 2021 car crash, made the 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 that are coming through and are going to be the next generation.”
McIlroy made it clear that of all the players in the room, it was Woods who commanded the greatest attention.
“He’s the hero that we’ve all looked up to. His voice carries further than anyone else’s in the game of golf,” McIlroy said.
“His role is navigating us to a place where we all think we should be.”