Inside the Players Meeting: Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy Spearheading Effort to Create New PGA Tour Circuit
Two people familiar with the players-only meeting held earlier this week say the PGA Tour players will make numerous radical proposals to commissioner Jay Monahan.
The Associated Press reports that this week, in anticipation of the BMW Championship, a select group of players including Tiger Woods met to discuss potential changes to the PGA Tour’s schedule. One proposal discussed at the meeting was to expand the number of tournaments from 14 to 18, each with 60 players and $20 million in prize money.
The conference was held at the Hotel du Pont, and while little specifics have surfaced, Sports Illustrated cites two individuals who each spoke to a player who attended the meeting as saying that the notion was among those discussed and may be taken to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and Tour administrators.
The 18-tournament notion as a “tour-within-a-tour” was also reported by the FirePit Collective, as was the potential of the PGA Tour, a 501c-6 organization, renouncing its tax-exempt status.
The PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship is coming up in Atlanta, so all of this is happening against the backdrop of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Thereafter, many players, including the current British Open champion Cam Smith, are predicted to leave the Tour for LIV Golf.
The concept of an annual stipend for players was brought up, as was the possibility of the Tour having a chat with LIV Golf, which began operations in June and has since recruited numerous players to lucrative multi-year contracts.
As this conversation progressed, Woods and McIlroy stood out as particularly influential figures. They have both spoken out vehemently against the LIV Golf Invitational Series, which has held three tournaments so far, with five more scheduled for 2022 before expanding to a 14-event league calendar in 2023 that will feature 12 teams and 48-man fields.
Woods, who has 82 PGA Tour wins and 15 major titles, made harsh remarks regarding legacy last month at St. Andrews before the British Open. He stated that players who rushed to LIV were “turning their backs” on the platform that helped them establish their eminence.
On Tuesday, Woods and Rickie Fowler took a flight to Wilmington for the conference. Members of the team who were present have been tight-lipped about the meeting’s contents, with some refusing to even confirm the whole roster’s size. Some of the players who were there and who were approached at this week’s BMW Championship declined to comment. The vast majority of interviewees have just provided broad observations regarding the get-together. According to Golf Channel, there were 22 golfers present during the gathering.
Only Tour commissioner Jay Monahan was present on Wednesday at Wilmington Country Club to address players’ queries and concerns, but no other Tour executives were present.
Reactions to the meeting were generally muted.
“It was fantastic. A lot of fun was had. That was the first time I’d seen it. It was brand new,” Xander Schauffele stated, adding that the players had a pact to keep the details secret.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Schauffele stated, “Yeah, I believe I’d be fairly irritated if I saw one of those people from Tuesday night just blabbering to you guys what we talked about. That would be extremely frowned upon, and you probably wouldn’t be welcomed back to the meeting. A code exists there, I think; that much seems certain.”
The same could be said of McIlroy, who simply said, “I don’t think that’s for a public forum right now.”
When asked about one change he would want to see, he said, “We need to bring the elite players together more often than we do.”
And that lines up with the information leaked by the sources. The four major championships, the Players Championship, three FedEx Cup playoff events, and three elevated events (the Genesis Invitational, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and the Memorial) are only some of the events on the PGA Tour’s current schedule of more than 40 tournaments. The WGC-Dell Accenture Match Play is the last remaining World Golf Championship tournament.
Next year, the prize money at all of these tournaments will rise, and the field size for the first round of the FedEx Cup playoffs will be capped at 70 players with no cuts.
There is still much work to be done before the Tour can include 18 elite events with small fields and no cuts.
Would any of the aforementioned occur as part of them? Would there be minimums or mandatory beginning dates? When the four majors are included in, the number of events on the PGA Tour jumps to 22, significantly reducing the chances that smaller tournaments will attract large fields. How do we pick the sixty participants?
Prior to LIV Golf, the Premier Golf League envisioned 18 tournaments that would feature 48 golfers in a no-cut 54-hole format. The 2019 LIV Golf schedule has 14 tournaments. Twenty-five million dollars will be distributed, with five million going to the top three teams.
Patrick Cantlay won the BMW Championship in a thrilling six-hole sudden-death playoff last year, which was a major factor in his eventual victory in the FedEx Cup. With his victory, he eliminated Bryson DeChambeau from FedEx Cup contention, despite the fact that DeChambeau probably wouldn’t have qualified anyway due to injury. DeChambeau is currently signed with LIV Golf.
Other players that could have been here, but are now with LIV Golf instead, include Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, and Louis Oosthuizen.
“The absence of those players has made the fields out here weaker,” Cantlay said. To paraphrase one commentator, “I think that’s just one of the unfortunate circumstances that happens when you have somewhat of a fractured sport as far as the best players, where they’re playing, especially compared to all the consistency we’ve had in the past where pretty much every single one of the top players plays all these events.”
Original article by Bob Harig on Newsbreak