Tiger Woods arrived on Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, the site of this week’s BMW Championship, to meet with a select few players to discuss the future of the PGA Tour and how it can be strengthened in the ongoing battle with LIV. Golf to the best players in the world.
Woods, a 15-time champion, flew to Delaware from Florida along with his friend Rickie Fowler, who failed to qualify for the second leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
PGA Tour stars Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay and others were expected to attend the meeting, which was held at an off-course hotel.
Sources told ESPN on Monday that Woods met with some of the world’s top 20 golfers and other influential players to ensure they were all on “the same page” regarding the future of the PGA Tour.
Woods had similar discussions with a handful of players at the JP McManus Pro-Am in Ireland in July, sources told ESPN, and he wanted to take their ideas to a wider audience of PGA Tour members.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan was not invited to the meeting. He is scheduled to host players in an informal question-and-answer session on Wednesday, a tour official told ESPN. Monahan has hosted the meetings at tournaments for the past few months.
A source told ESPN it was not expected to be an “all hands on deck” meeting with Woods. A number of great champions of the past, including Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson, have defected to LIV Golf, which lures players away from the PGA Tour with guaranteed contracts worth as much as $100 million to $200 million. as $25 million purses for each of his events.
Last week, the Telegraph of London reported that Open Championship winner Cameron Smith, the world’s No. 2, is about to join LIV Golf. Smith dodged journalists’ questions about the report.
Woods’ meeting with players comes a week after a federal judge denied a temporary restraining order against three LIV players who attempted to return to the PGA Tour to compete in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford tried to play in the FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tennessee last week.
“I think it could have made things a little uncomfortable, yes,” Spain’s Jon Rahm said at a press conference on Tuesday. “They chose to leave the PGA Tour, they chose to go on another tour, knowing the consequences; and then trying to come back and, you know, [and it] wouldn’t, I’d say, have sat very well with me.
“But at the same time they are adults, aren’t they? They are free to a certain extent to do as they please, and that’s what they’ve chosen to do. If they’re allowed by a judge, I’m no one to care about anything else.” It might have been awkward, but I guess we’ll never know.”
Cantlay, the reigning FedEx Cup champion, was asked whether a gathering of only a limited number of players would lead to further division on the PGA Tour. Cantlay said he was invited to attend the meeting.
“I think depending on the results, something may change,” Cantlay said. “I’m not sure what will change, what the result will be. I think it’s good that many players come together to discuss the situation here, especially given the current circumstances.”