First rule of PGA Tour players' meeting: Don't talk about PGA Tour players' meeting

·4-min read

Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and many other top golfers met in Delaware Tuesday afternoon, intending to discuss ... well, nobody outside the room is really sure. The ongoing battle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf is a hot topic among players, obviously, as are the defections from the Tour to LIV and the vastly different financial structures.

Players have in the past voiced vague concerns about PGA Tour operations. But as for Tuesday's meeting? Everybody was keeping their mouths shut.

"I'd be pretty unhappy if I saw one of those guys from [Tuesday] night just blabbering to you guys what we talked about," Xander Schauffele told media assembled at the BMW Championship Wednesday. "That would be really frowned upon, and you probably wouldn't get invited back to the meeting. Yeah, there's a little bit of a code there, I'd say."

"It was a productive meeting," Justin Thomas said. "It's just something that the players who are involved just want the best for the TOUR and want what's in the best interest."

The players who are remaining with the PGA Tour find themselves with more power than they'd had in the past — power to make and enforce change on an organization that many feel isn't always working primarily in their best interests. Whether the Tour increases purses, reduces playing requirements, or even takes the previously-unthinkable step of offering guaranteed appearance fees, the LIV schism has forced change on a sport not known for its willingness to change.

Rory McIlroy hinted that the players intend to have a much larger voice in Tour operations going forward, but didn't elaborate on how that might occur. "I don't think that's for a public forum right now," he said. "I think that's between the players and between the executives at the Tour to try to sort of manage a way forward."

LIV Golf is attacking the Tour on multiple fronts. Many big-name players have left the Tour for LIV, and more — including some very recent major winners — are expected to join once the Tour's season concludes next week. LIV is changing the way players compete and earn (vast) compensation.

But the PGA Tour still has one thing LIV doesn't. The PGA Tour has Tiger Woods.

The fact that Woods, rarely seen in public outside his infrequent tournament appearances, would agree to fly from his Florida home to Delaware for the meeting showed the importance of the issue. The players present at the meeting wouldn't discuss specifics, but they happily showered praise on Tiger.

"I think if someone like him is passionate 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 a good idea in terms of the betterment of the game, but two, it's just not going to work. He needs to be behind something."

"He is the hero that we've all looked up to," McIlroy said. "His voice carries further than anyone else's in the game of golf. His role is navigating us to a place where we all think we should be."

Woods' presence as elder statesman, not necessarily playing partner, underscores the changing world that the PGA Tour now must navigate. "Like it or not, (the Tour) can't really sell Tiger Woods anymore," McIlroy added. "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. We're moving into a different era, and we just have to think about things a little differently."

The Tour's season concludes next week at the Tour Championship in Atlanta. LIV Golf's next scheduled event is slated for early September in Boston. A lawsuit filed by 11 Tour members who jumped to LIV remains active, although the Tour recently scored the first courtroom win in what will surely be a long-running battle.

Justin Thomas is keeping his silence on the PGA Tour players' meeting. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Justin Thomas is keeping his silence on the PGA Tour players' meeting. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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Contact Jay Busbee at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.