By DOUG FERGUSON – AP Golf Writer
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — The PGA Tour is in Delaware for the first time and the buzz was still surrounding Tiger Woods, even though he didn’t have clubs and wasn’t even on the golf course.
Woods flew to Wilmington on Tuesday for a private meeting of top players to discuss the threat of Saudi-funded LIV Golf, according to two people with knowledge of BMW Championship plans.
They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity due to the confidentiality of the meeting. A guest at the meeting said it was about getting on the same page against LIV Golf, while taking more ownership of the leadership of the PGA Tour.
That meeting led to a previously scheduled Player Advisory Council meeting being pushed back by around an hour until later Tuesday afternoon. Woods flew from his Florida home with Rickie Fowler, who did not qualify for the second FedEx Cup playoff.
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The meeting took place away from the Wilmington Country Club at a hotel, according to another person familiar with the details. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan was not invited.
“There is a players meeting, but that’s all I can tell you about it,” Jon Rahm said.
Monahan met with the players informally last week following a hearing in which a federal judge denied a request by three LIV Golf players seeking to play in the PGA Tour playoffs.
He also met with players a week after the US Open to detail plans for significant prize money increases on the PGA Tour, qualifying changes and a new schedule that will revert to a January season start in 2024.
“I don’t know what, if anything, will change, what the outcome will be,” said Patrick Cantlay. “I think it’s good that a lot of players are coming together to discuss the situation here, especially given the current circumstances.”
Woods has been a strong opponent for LIV Golf. Rival league leader Greg Norman confirmed in an interview with Fox News last month that Woods was offered between $700 million and $800 million to participate. Norman said that was before he was hired to run LIV Golf.
Norman and Woods have never been close, dating back to when Woods first arrived on the PGA Tour and instantly became golf’s biggest star in generations.
Woods was particularly energetic at the British Open last month when he said Norman was not invited to the festivities around the 150th Open, “Greg did some things which I don’t think are in the best interest of our game.”
He said he disagreed with players getting huge signing bonuses to move to LIV Golf, saying they had turned their backs on the tour that made them famous.
The PGA Tour has responded to the depth of Saudi funding with a $50 million bonus pool called the Player Impact Program that pays 10 top players based on the attention they receive. Some players, like Cantlay, the defending FedEx Cup champion, don’t like the program.
A series of tournaments abroad at the end of the year are also in preparation to reward the best players. The tour has not announced details or a sponsor.
LIV Golf played three events each offering $25 million in prize money to a field of players including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau. It resumes its eight-tournament schedule after the FedEx Cup ends next week.
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