August 20, 2022
Details of the Tiger Woods-led PGA Tour players-only meeting earlier this week in Wilmington, Delaware, are starting to emerge. And perhaps the biggest thought discussed by the group of about 20 top players, according to reports from both the Fire Pit Collective’s Alan Shipnuck and Sports Illustrated’s Bob Harig, is the idea of a ‘tour within a tour’ — 60 players could play in 18 no-cut events on the PGA Tour featuring $20 million purses.
The concept would be in response to the upstart, Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, though it would also closely model it — LIV next year will play 14 no-cut, 48-player tournaments. Notably, the PGA Tour has already announced eight events on next year’s schedule will feature an elevated status and include purses of $20 million ($15 million for the limited-field Sentry Tournament of Champions and $25 million for the Players Championship).
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Woods flew into Wilmington with Rickie Fowler on Tuesday for the meeting, which was called to discuss ways the PGA Tour players can combat the threat of LIV Golf. Golf Channel reported 22 players attended.
Also reportedly discussed at the meeting was a stipend for all PGA Tour members, which would be counted against their earnings, and potential negotiations with LIV Golf in order to coexist or work together with it.
Any ideas discussed at the meeting could potentially be brought to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, who was not in attendance.
Woods and Rory McIlroy were the most prominent leaders at the meeting, according to reports. Both have taken strong public stances against LIV Golf and its commissioner, Greg Norman. Woods is reported to have turned down an extremely lucrative offer from LIV Golf.
“I think that what they’ve done is they’ve turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position,” Woods said of LIV defectors at the Open Championship last month. “What these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practice? What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt? You’re just getting paid a lot of money up front and playing a few events and playing 54 holes. They’re playing blaring music and have all these atmospheres that are different.”
Tour players were mostly tight-lipped on the meeting at Wednesday’s press conferences ahead the BMW Championship at Wilmington Country Club, and none were asked about it after reports came out with the details of the meeting during the third round Saturday.
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“It’s impactful, and I think it shows how much he cares about the Tour,” McIlroy said of Woods’ presence at the meeting on Wednesday. “I think it shows how much he cares about the players that are coming through and are going to be the next generation. 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 — yes, 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.”
LIV Golf has held three events since launching in June, and each has had 48-man fields and $4 million first-place prizes, along with $20 million purses and an additional $5 million purse for a team competition. Each event is 54 holes as opposed to the four-round, 72-hole format used by the PGA Tour. However, the format and field sizes have drawn questions about if it will need to be changed to qualify for Official World Golf Ranking points.
Five more events are planned for 2022 before the series shifts to 14 events in 2023. The next event is the week after the Tour Championship and will be played outside Boston.
Several high-profile players such as Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Brooks Koekpa have defected to LIV Golf, and more are rumored to be joining at the conclusion of next week’s Tour Championship. The Tour has suspended all players who have teed it up in the series.
Earlier this month, a group of LIV Golf pros, led by Mickelson, filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour for suspending them and exhibiting anti-competitive behavior. The first legal ruling came down last week when three LIV pros — Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford — were denied a temporary restraining order to be allowed to play in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
In response to the Woods-led meeting, GOLF.com reached out to Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, but a message was not immediately returned.
Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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