As Cameron Smith sits out the BMW Championship amid rumors of his reportedly imminent defection to LIV Golf, PGA Tour players are trying to figure out ways to curb the rival league and support their own.
Tiger Woods plans to meet with top players at the BMW Championship in Delaware on Tuesday to rally support for the PGA Tour and figure out what the next sensible move would be, per ESPN.
“It’s a meeting to get the top 20 players in the world on the same page on how we can continue to make the PGA Tour the best product in professional golf,” a player who was invited told ESPN.
Woods, who turned down a massive LIV Golf offer worth between $700 and $800 million, per Greg Norman, has been hyper-critical of the Saudi-backed league, which has netted the likes of Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and more.
The PGA Tour players also will reportedly meet with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on Wednesday.
MORE: Everything you need to know about the FedEx Cup playoffs
Why Tiger Woods is meeting with PGA Tour players
While it’s all speculative, veteran golf writer Alan Shipnuck has said the meeting on Tuesday should have a lot of unpacking.
I’m hearing tomorrow’s PGA Tour player meeting regarding LIV is going to be a banger. Supposedly everything is on the table, from major championship boycotts to Monahan’s future to a larger compromise. And Tiger MF Woods is expected to fly in to provide counsel/bully/cajole.🍿
— Alan Shipnuck (@AlanShipnuck) August 15, 2022
If PGA Tour players boycott, it will be because they’re sick of LIV Golf players playing in major events due to the lack of PGA Tour control over the makeup of those fields. LIV Golf members have played in all four major championships this year despite their suspension from Tour-sanctioned events since each major has its own governing body, and three LIV Golf members sought a temporary restraining order to compete in the FedEx Cup Playoffs (they were refused ).
The note about Monahan is also interesting. He hasn’t been in power for very long, but it appears players would like to see the sitting commissioner take a more active stance.
MORE: Will Zalatoris the one everyone’s chasing in FedEx Cup playoffs
What has Tiger Woods said about LIV Golf?
Woods meeting with these players is taking a clear public stance, not that he was opaque before.
Woods has regularly preached about the “best interests” of golf with relation to LIV Golf, which purportedly is trying to “grow the game” according to all of its marketing materials. Woods doesn’t share that assessment.
“Greg (Norman) has done some things that I don’t think are in the best interest of our game, and we’re coming back to probably the most historic and traditional place in our sport,” Woods said at The Open Championship. “I believe it’s the right thing.”
“I know what the PGA Tour stands for and what we have done and what the Tour has given us,” he continued. “The ability to chase after our careers and to earn what we get and the trophies we have been able to play for and the history that has been a part of this game. I know Greg tried to do this back in the early ’90s. It didn’t work then, and he’s trying to make it work now. I still don’t see how that’s in the best interests of the game.”
MORE: David Feherty explains why he joined LIV Golf: ‘a lot of money’
Regarding the players, Woods took a more aggressive stance.
“You just don’t understand it. What are these players 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.”
Who is Jay Monahan?
Jay Monahan is the commissioner of the PGA Tour, the fourth to hold the title. Monahan has been the tour’s commissioner since Jan. 1, 2017, and like Woods, he has been sharp in his criticism of LIV Golf.
Monahan has also refused to mention LIV Golf by name on public broadcasts.
When asked at the RBC Canadian Open why he wouldn’t let players play in both leagues shortly after suspending all LIV Golf members indefinitely, Monahan was curt.
“I’d answer that question by asking a question, and that is, why do they need us so badly?” he said back in June. “Because those players have chosen to sign multi-year, lucrative contracts to play in a series of exhibition matches against the same players over and over again. You look at that versus what we see here today, and that’s why they need us so badly . You’ve got true, pure competition, the best players in the world here at the RBC Canadian Open, with millions of fans watching.”
Before serving as commissioner of the PGA Tour, Monahan was an executive at The Players Championship and worked his way up to Deputy Commissioner and eventually COO before the retirement of Tim Finchem.