The PGA Tour’s plight in overcoming the LIV Golf Series is far from over, but Rory McIlroy is clearly pleased to have Tiger Woods on his side of the civil war.
Many of golf’s biggest stars have already turned coat and accepted a move to the Saudi-funded series, which offers guaranteed paydays and much larger prize purses. McIlroy and Woods have each spoken in opposition of the breakaway competition, which has forced the PGA to reconsider ways in which it might modernise to keep its members happy.
A raft of PGA pros met in Delaware on Wednesday to discuss the elephant in the room ahead of this weekend’s BMW Championship. And McIlroy, 33, described long-time friend Woods as “the hero that we’ve all looked up to” when asked about the 15-time major champion’s role in the talks.
“I think it shows how much he cares about the Tour,” said McIlroy following Wednesday’s meeting. “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 any more. 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.”
LIV Golf Investments CEO Greg Norman has already confirmed Woods received an offer in the “high nine digits” to become the face of the Saudi series. Woods, 46, is already believed to boast billionaire status, however, and so perhaps isn’t as motivated by money as many of his peers.
Rory McIlroy hailed Tiger Woods as
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McIlroy went on to say the biggest name in golf will play a leading role in “navigating us to a place where we all think we should be.” In response to LIV Golf offering at least $25million (£21m) in prize money at each of its events, the PGA Tour has already boosted winnings in several of its contests.
Further reform is in the works via the introduction of more lucrative autumn events, which are believed to boast $20m (£17m) purses. It’s essential superstar names stick around if the PGA Tour is to remain golf’s premier circuit, and countering with more money is one method of achieving that.
Despite still being fairly young on the Tour, McIlroy is now a senior talent and a respected voice among his peers. But even he’s wary of the extra gravitas a character like Woods brings to these talks: “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.”