PGA Tour players pledge unity after meeting Tiger Woods

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Some of the top stars of the PGA Tour said they were leaving a Tuesday night players’ meeting, which also included Tiger Woods, in agreement about the future of their tour amid the mounting threat of the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

With the BMW Championship kicking off Thursday morning in Wilmington, Del., much of the buzz around Wilmington Country Club has focused on that meeting and the ongoing feud between the dueling golf circuits rather than the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. .

Woods, who has been off the field this week and has played sparingly since his February 2021 car accident, has been candid about his allegiance to the PGA Tour as the fledgling LIV circuit has poached several high-profile golfers, including major winners Dustin Johnson Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.

Preventing more foothills has become part of Woods’ agenda, who spoke at the Old Course in St Andrews last month about the importance of legacy for the start of the British Open. Justin Thomas, who is close friends with Woods, gave a little insight Wednesday morning into the significance of the 15-time major champion making the trip to Delaware to meet some of the tour’s leading players at a Wilmington hotel.

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“If someone like him is passionate about it, it’s not offensive to all of us, but that’s really all that matters,” Thomas said. “If he’s not behind something then it’s probably not a good idea in terms of improving the game, but two, it’s just not going to work. He must be behind something.

“He’s been a great kind of leadership role in many ways in the game, for many of us.”

Thomas didn’t disclose details of what was discussed at the meeting, which took place after Tuesday’s practice rounds, but he said the tenor of the conversation was focused on what would be best for PGA Tour players, as LIV offers exorbitant amounts of money. to lure stars away.

Rory McIlroy, a four-time major winner and another vocal supporter of the PGA Tour in his controversial battle with LIV, said the meeting offered a respite from the conflict in the sport.

“The only thing that came out of it, which I think was the goal, is for all the top players on this tour to agree on where we need to go, and that was great,” said McIlroy.

One of the more notable players lining up to join LIV is Cameron Smith, according to the Telegraph. The No. 2 ranked player in the world and winner of the British Open withdrew from the BMW Championship on Monday, two days after being given a two-stroke penalty at the St. Jude Championship, the first of three events in the FedEx Cup playoffs .

Also absent from the BMW are three of the top nine finishers from last year’s tournament at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland, where Patrick Cantlay defeated DeChambeau on the sixth playoff hole in one of the most convincing conclusions in the recent history.

As the conflict between tours simmers, players said on Wednesday that Woods, 46, will continue to play an invaluable role throughout their tour, whether or not he participates.

“I mean, he’s the hero we’ve all looked up to,” said McIlroy, third in the world and ninth in the FedEx Cup standings. “His voice goes beyond anyone else’s in golf. Its role is to navigate us to a place where we all think we should be.

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“He came because it was very important to him,” said Thomas, seventh in the world and 10th in the FedEx Cup standings. “It probably just wasn’t something he thought was appropriate to do via Zoom or just dial in. It shows how passionate he is about golf and that he wants to improve it and pave the way for the next generation of youngsters.” players to come out.” the route.”

The meeting — which also included Rickie Fowler, who accompanied Woods to Delaware — took place a week after a federal judge ruled against LIV golfers Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford in their bid for a temporary restraining order against them. to participate in the FedEx Cup playoffs.

The trio had accumulated enough points to qualify for the playoffs, but lost their PGA Tour privileges when they joined LIV, the Saudi-backed series with ties to Mohammed bin Salman. According to US intelligence, the country’s crown prince has authorized the plan that led to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Eleven players on the LIV circuit, including DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson, filed an antitrust suit against the PGA Tour earlier this month to challenge their suspension. The lawsuit suing the PGA Tour has not only threatened golfers who wanted to play in LIV tournaments, but also “threatened sponsors, vendors and agents to force players to forgo the opportunities to play in LIV Golf events.”

The most recent manifestation of the inter-track feud came to light on Tuesday when Patrick Reed, an LIV defector, brought a libel suit against television commentator Brandel Chamblee, alleging comments from the Golf Channel analyst had hurt him financially and his family. hurt emotionally.

The two have been in conflict since at least January 2020, when a lawyer representing the then PGA Tour player sent a waiver letter to Chamblee demanding that he stop repeating an allegation that Reed cheated in the 2019 Hero World Challenge. , an unofficial event in the Bahamas hosted by Woods. It was another ugly headline for a sport that has had a lot of it this season.

“It’s absolutely broken at the moment,” said Xander Schauffele, the No. 6 player in the world and in the FedEx Cup standings, when asked about a solution to the saga between the PGA Tour and LIV. “Yeah, we’re in the middle of it. In a nice, calm way would be a nice result.”

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