Tiger Woods met with several top golfers, including Rory McIlroy, on Tuesday night in an effort to bolster support for the PGA Tour as many big names in the golf world continue to defect to the LIV Golf Series.
The meeting took place prior to the start of the BMW Championship — the second leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs — on Thursday, but the details of the meeting were not disclosed. The PGA Tour golfers met with Woods for more than three hours at a hotel in Wilmington, Delaware, according to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach.
“I think 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, and that was awesome,” Rory McIlroy told reporters at a news conference Wednesday at Wilmington Country Club, as transcribed by Schlabach.
Xander Schauffele, the sixth-ranked player in the world, described some of the ideas discussed in the meeting as “new” and “fresh.” Schauffele was asked how he would like to see the tensions between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf resolved, and he said, “Some sort of unity. (Golf is) definitely fractured currently. Yeah, we’re just in the middle of it. In a nice peaceful way would be a nice outcome.”
LIV CEO Greg Norman confirmed Woods was offered a deal in the range of $700 and $800 million to join the Saudi-backed league, but the 15-time major champion turned down the offer and has been a supporter of the PGA Tour amid LIV’s rise. It was not lost on those in the meeting how vital Woods’ public support has been.
“I think it’s pretty apparent that whenever we all get in the room, there’s an alpha in there, and it’s not me,” McIlroy said.
Speaking more on Woods’ leadership, McIlroy added, “I think it shows how much he cares about the players that are coming through and are going to be the next generation,” McIlroy said. “Like it or not, they can’t really sell Tiger Woods anymore. The tour had an easy job for 20 years. They don’t have Tiger. They’ve got a bunch of us and we’re all great players, but we’re not Tiger Woods. We’re moving into a different era, and we just have to think about things a little differently.”
Woods and Rickie Fowler flew from Florida to Delaware to attend the meeting, according to Schlabach. About 20 to 25 players attended the meeting, including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Scottie Scheffler.
“It was a productive meeting,” Thomas said, as transcribed by Schlabach. “It’s just something that the players who 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 best for the players, and we’re working to do that.”
On Woods’ backing of the PGA Tour, Thomas added, “I think if someone like him is passionate about it, no offense to all of us, but that’s really all that matters. If he’s not behind something, then one, it’s probably not a good idea in terms of the betterment of the game, but two, it’s just not going to work. He needs to be behind something.”
Woods, 46, may not be the golfer he was in his prime — partly due to his serious injury in a car crash in February, 2021. But he is still a legend in the golf world, and his presence alone still carries an impact on the sport.
“He is the hero that we’ve all looked up to,” McIlroy said. “His voice carries further than anyone else’s in the game of golf. His role is navigating us to a place where we all think we should be.”
Woods has only played in the Masters, PGA Championship and The Open at St. Andrews since his accident, but the golfers of the PGA Tour know he is someone they can rely on.