Tiger Woods showed up to the private gathering of the PGA Tour's top players dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved plaid shirt. "I think it's pretty self-evident that every time we all walk into the room, there's an alpha in there," said Rory McIlroy.
"And no I am" Exactly what came out of the meeting at the Du Pont Hotel in Wilmington, Delaware, is something of a mystery, even down to the number of players in attendance. The aim was to unify, not only against the threat of a Super League financed with Saudi money, but also to shore up any weaknesses in the American circuit.
Tiger Woods, situation
They left the meeting only for players with another form of unity: tight-lipped. "I guess I wouldn't want to see one of the guys from last night saying what we talked about," Xander Schauffele said.
"That would be very frowned upon, and you probably wouldn't be invited to the meeting. There's a little code there, I'd say." The meeting was an extension of an impromptu meeting at the J.P. McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor in Limerick, Ireland the week of the Scottish Open, which featured a roster of golf's best, young and old, including those already signed to LIV Golf.
It was important enough for Woods, who has played only three times this year due to injuries to his right leg from a car accident in February 2021, to fly out on his private jet and do it with Rickie Fowler, who did not qualify for the BMW Championship, second Playoff of the FedEx Cup.
"I think he shows how much he cares about the tour. I think he shows how much he cares about the players who are coming in and who are going to be part of the next generation," McIlroy said. "Like it or not, they can't sell Tiger Woods anymore.
The Tour had an easy job for 20 years. They don't have Tiger. Yes, they have a group of great players, but we are not Tiger Woods," said the Briton. "We're entering a different era, and we have to think about things a little differently," he added.
The meeting took place at a time of great news for LIV Golf. The 'Daily Telegraph' reported that British Open champion Cameron Smith will join the Super League after the FedEx Cup, and a federal judge denied a request from three LIV Golf players who wanted to play in the tour's postseason.
"One thing that came out of this, which I think was the purpose, is that all the top players on this tour are in agreement and aligned on where we need to go in the future, and that was the most remarkable thing," McIlroy said.
"I don't think that's for a public forum right now," Rory added. "I think that's between the players and between the tour executives to figure out a way forward," he said. Will Zalatoris was at the meeting, fresh from his first PGA Tour title last week, which propelled him to No.
9 in the FedEx Cup standings and No. 9 in the world. He has just turned 26 and has only been on the circuit for two, one of them as a full member. Being in that room, Zalatoris said, was one of the "coolest" experiences he could imagine.
"He's the most powerful voice in the game, obviously golf, no question," Zalatoris said of Woods. "Having the whole world there and being so united in terms of how much we want - with everything that's going on - we want the best not only for now but for the future.
It's been very interesting to see so many people come together to try to do the right thing," said PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, who was not invited. Monahan has already announced increased prize money for the upcoming season, with eight tournaments offering $15 million or more in prize money, an even bigger prize pool for three international events later in the year, and a schedule from January to August from 2024.
LIV Golf offers 25 million dollars for each tournament -five more this year, 14 for 2023-, of which 5 million will go to a team concept. The players didn't want to talk about specific areas where the PGA Tour could improve or what other things they think are needed, except for the best players to compete together more often.
So reserved were they that at one point, in response to a question about how to improve the tour, Justin Thomas said, "I know that doesn't answer your question, but that's the answer. It was a productive meeting," Thomas said.
"I think it's one of those things where we all want the best for the players, and we're working on it," settled the PGA Championship winner.