Woods flew to Wilmington, Delaware, to attend the PGA Tour Top Players meeting held before the BMW Championship, although he did not qualify for the second round of FedEx Cup playoffs. this week.

“It’s impactful,” said McIlroy, a four-time major winner. “I think it shows how much he cares about the Tour. I think it shows how much he cares about the players who are coming in and who will be part of the next generation.”

Woods returned to the Masters in April after a 17-month absence following a car crash in February 2021 in which he suffered serious leg injuries.

Although McIlroy acknowledged that the PGA Tour was “entering a different era” as Woods’ career declined, he said the legendary American was still one of golf’s most influential figures.

“He is the hero we have all looked up to and his voice carries farther than anyone else in the game of golf. His role is to guide us to a place where we all think we should be.”

Woods has long criticized the dissident series LIV Golf which is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia – and he turned down an offer worth around $700-800 million to join, according to tour CEO Greg Norman.

Many top players left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf – including big winners Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka – lured by the $250 million total prize pool and an attempt to reform the PGA Tour.

They have been criticized by other players for abandoning golf traditions and accepting money from a country that has been condemned by human rights groups.

“I don’t agree with that [the players’ decision to join LIV Golf]”Woods said in July ahead of the 150th Open Championship held in St. Andrews. “I think what they’ve done is they’ve turned their backs on what allowed them to ‘achieve this position.’

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In response to the existential threat from LIV Golf, the PGA Tour and DP World Tour – formerly the European Tour – have suspended anyone who has joined the breakaway series, although so far the majors have allowed all qualified golfers to continue playing. in these events.

Earlier this month, a U.S. federal judge ruled in favor of the PGA Tour, denying three LIV Golf players – Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones – a temporary restraining order allowing them to play in the PGA Tour playoffs. FedExCup.

“A productive meeting”

Former world number one Justin Thomas also paid tribute to Woods’ role in the “productive” meeting, which reportedly lasted three and a half hours.

“It’s huge. If someone like [Woods] is passionate, without blaming us all, that’s really all that matters,” Thomas said in his pre-BMW Championship press conference.

“If he’s not behind something, it’s probably not a good idea in terms of improving the game, but it just won’t work.”

Justin Thomas has racked up 15 PGA Tour wins in his career.

Both Thomas and McIlroy were reluctant to divulge details of the players’ meeting, but suggested a deal had been reached.

“All the top players are in agreement, aligned on where to go,” McIlroy said. “And it was awesome.

“We need to get the top guys together more often than we do… I’m talking about all of them in the same tournaments, all in the same weeks.”

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