GOLF

PGA Tour golfers praise Tiger Woods’ leadership amid LIV turmoil, mum on reunion details

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The PGA Tour’s top players aren’t ready to reveal what was discussed in a meeting with Tiger Woods on Tuesday night, but many insist they’re on the same page when it comes to what the Tour has to do in its ongoing battle with LIV Golf.

Many of the world’s top 20 golfers and other influential players who are still members of the PGA Tour met with Woods for more than three hours at a hotel in Wilmington, Delaware, the site of this week’s BMW Championship, the second leg of The FedEx Cup playoffs.

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“I think the one thing that came out of it, and I think that was the point, is that all the top players on this tour are in agreement and aligned on where we should go from here. before, and it was awesome,” Rory McIlroy said at a press conference Wednesday at the Wilmington Country Club.

McIlroy said any ideas or proposed changes discussed by players are not intended for a “public forum at this time” and will remain between the players and PGA Tour executives.

Xander Schauffele, the world’s sixth-ranked player, described some of the ideas discussed at the meeting as “new” and “fresh”.

When Schauffele was asked how he would like to see the battle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf resolved, he replied: “Some kind of unity. [Golf is] definitely fractured right now. Yeah, we’re right in the middle. In a nice and peaceful way, that would be a good result.”

The presence of 15-time major champion Woods in the meeting brought credibility to the discussion, the players said.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that every time we all walk into the room, there’s an alpha in there, and that’s not me,” McIlroy said.

Woods and his good friend Rickie Fowler flew from Florida to Delaware to attend the reunion. About 20-25 players attended the game, including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Scottie Scheffler.

“It was a productive meeting,” Thomas said. “It’s just something that the players that are involved just want the best for the tour and want what’s in the best interest. I think it’s just one of those things where we all want what’s there. is best for the players, and we’re working to do that.”

Several former great champions, including Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed, have been lured onto the Saudi-funded LIV Golf circuit with guaranteed contracts worth $100-200 million.

Last week, the London Telegraph reported that Open Championship winner Cameron Smith, the world’s No. 2 ranked player, is set to defect to LIV Golf. Two other players linked to the new league, Cameron Young and Joaquin Niemann, attended the players-only meeting on Tuesday night, sources have confirmed to ESPN.

Woods, 46, has only played the Masters, PGA Championship and St. Andrews Open this season, his first action since being seriously injured in a car accident outside Los Angeles in February 2021. Woods insisted he would play in limited events. in the future as his career draws to a close.

But Woods’ voice still carries a lot of weight with players like McIlroy, Thomas and others, who idolized him as a player growing up.

“I think it shows how much he cares about the players coming in and being part of the next generation,” McIlroy said. “Like it or not, they can’t really sell Tiger Woods anymore. The tour has had an easy job for 20 years. They don’t have Tiger. There are a lot of us and we’re all great players, but we don’t We’re not Tiger Woods. We’re entering a different era, and we just have to think about things a little differently.

Thomas added: “I think if someone like him is passionate about it, let’s not all get offended, but that’s really all that matters. If he’s not behind something, then one, this probably isn’t a good idea in terms of improving the game, but two, it just won’t work. He must be behind something.

McIlroy said Woods’ role now is to make sure the PGA Tour is in good shape at the end of his career. According to LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, Woods turned down an offer between $700 million and $800 million to join the upstart league.

“He’s the hero we all look up to,” McIlroy said. “His voice carries farther than anyone else in the game of golf. His role is to guide us to a place where we all think we should be.”

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