PGA Tour stars, including Tiger Woods, met on Tuesday to grapple with the LIV Golf series, which has lured away tour players with staggering sums of cash, and emerged feeling positive but unwilling to detail how they planned to fend off the rebel golf start-up or live somewhat peacefully alongside it.
The meeting was the most recent turn in what has been an uncharacteristically antagonistic yr in golf, and it got here just every week after a federal judge ruled that the PGA Tour can bar LIV golfers from the FedEx Cup playoffs, which conclude at the top of August.
Ahead of the BMW Championship, PGA Tour players on Wednesday were reluctant to share specifics concerning the meeting, held in Wilmington, Del., that attracted Woods, who flew in from his home in Florida to attend. Rory McIlroy, the world No. 3, described the meeting to reporters on Wednesday as “impactful.”
McIlroy said Woods’s leadership on the meeting was crucial as players discussed the right way to improve the PGA Tour and contend with the rift within the golf world for the reason that emergence of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational series. (The PGA Tour announced in June that it could suspend players who joined the LIV series.)
“His role is navigating us to a spot where all of us think we should always be,” McIlroy said of Woods’s presence. “He’s the hero that we’ve all looked as much as. His voice carries further than anyone else’s in the sport of golf.”
While players were quick to praise Woods, they demurred when it got here to sharing any actionable steps that got here from the meeting.
“What’s the short-term? What’s the medium-term? What’s the long-term?” McIlroy said. “That’s something that now we have to determine.”
Xander Schauffele told reporters on Wednesday that he desired to see a resolution that resulted in “some type of unity.”
“It was a very nice meeting. It was great. It was exciting. It was latest. It was fresh,” Schauffele said. “I’m very hopeful with what’s to come back.”
Schauffele, the world No. 6, told reporters there was “a little bit little bit of a code” to maintain quiet.
“I feel I’d be pretty unhappy if I saw one among those guys from last night just blabbering to you guys what we talked about,” Schauffele said. “That may be really frowned upon, and you almost certainly wouldn’t get invited back to the meeting.”
Justin Thomas, the world No. 7, said at a news conference that the meeting was “productive” and that the players who attended “just want the very best for the tour and need what’s in the very best interest.”
“I’d just hope for a greater product,” Thomas said. “I feel that’s the hope typically of anything, is simply to try to enhance ourselves, where we’re playing, every little thing the very best that we are able to.”
Thomas said that having Woods present gave the meeting added credibility.
“I feel if someone like him is enthusiastic about it, no offense to all of us, but that’s really all that matters,” Thomas said. “If he’s not behind something, then, one, it’s probably not idea when it comes to the betterment of the sport, but, two, it’s just not going to work. He must be behind something.”
McIlroy said that along with coping with LIV Golf, the PGA Tour would also eventually should handle a world without Woods on the tour.
“The tour had a straightforward job for 20 years,” McIlroy said. “They’ve got a bunch of us, and we’re all great players. But we’re not Tiger Woods.”
Adding to Tuesday’s drama, Patrick Reed, the winner of the 2018 Masters who joined LIV Golf in June, filed a defamation lawsuit against Golf Channel and the commentator Brandel Chamblee, searching for $750 million in damages.
The lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court in Texas, claims that the network and Chamblee have conspired with the PGA Tour to defame LIV players “with the intention to destroy them and their families professionally and personally” and eliminate LIV Golf as a competitor.
In keeping with the lawsuit, Golf Channel, Chamblee and the PGA Tour have conspired since Reed was 23, about nine years ago, “to destroy his fame, create hate, and a hostile work environment for him, and with the intention to discredit his name and accomplishments.”
For Chamblee and Golf Channel, “it doesn’t matter how badly they destroy someone’s name and life, as long as they rake in additional dollars and profit,” the lawsuit said.
Larry Klayman, a lawyer for Reed, said that “we’re confident of prevailing in court,” adding that “it’s a really strong grievance.”
“While Chamblee’s and NBC’s Golf Channel’s never-ending defamation with regard to Mr. Reed, as set forth within the grievance isn’t latest, along with his joining of LIV Golf, it has reached latest, intolerable heights,” Klayman said in a press release.
Lawyers for Golf Channel and Chamblee couldn’t be reached.
The LIV Tour, which is financed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, has drawn much attention and criticism in recent months. Amongst those that have left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf are Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson. Mickelson sparked outrage in February when it was reported that he had said that the LIV series was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” at the same time as he called Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights “horrible.”
Mickelson, who’s reported to have received as much as $200 million to sign with the breakaway tour, is amongst 11 golfers who defected from the PGA Tour after which filed an antitrust lawsuit earlier this month against the PGA Tour, searching for to challenge its suspensions and other measures which were used to discipline players who’ve joined LIV Golf.