Rory praises “alpha” Tiger Woods after LIV meeting with players

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy hailed the impact of Tiger Woods in a recent private meeting of top players and indicated that he has taken the mantle as the “alpha” figure in the PGA Tour’s power struggle with LIV Golf.

Despite not qualifying for the FedEx Cup playoffs, the fifteen-time major champion flew in for a meeting of the top-20 players in the world – excluding Cameron Smith – to discuss where the PGA Tour goes amid the threat of the Saudi backed golf tour and the amount of players who seem to be joining.

Speaking ahead of the BMW Championship – the second of three playoff events – McIlroy was coy on revealing anything major but did say that the players at the meeting are all pulling in the same direction which is interesting considering LIV linked players Cameron Young and Joaquin Niemann were also present.

“I think the one thing that came out of it, which I think was the purpose, is all the top players on this Tour are in agreement and alignment of where we should go going forward, and that was awesome,” said McIlroy who had taken on the position as the leading voice for the PGA Tour in the fight against LIV.

However, if Tiger sticks around, Rory might not be sitting at the top of the table. But he was encouraged to see how much Woods cares about the PGA Tour and feels Jay Monahan and co can’t sell Tiger as much as they used to

“I think it’s pretty apparent that whenever we all get in the room, there’s an alpha in there, and it’s not me,” joked the four-time major winner.

“It’s impactful, and I think it shows how much he cares about the Tour. I think it shows how much he cares about the players that are coming through and are going to be the next generation. Like it or not, they can’t really sell Tiger Woods anymore. 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.

“I mean, he is the hero that we’ve all looked up to. 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.

“I think he’s carried the Tour for a long, long time. I think we as players that were his contemporaries that were a little older than me but even the guys coming behind, we’ve all benefitted from that. But as I said, how can we keep benefiting from that going forward,” added McIlroy who is joined in the field this week by Shane Lowry and Seamus Power, both of whom need good weeks to push themselves into the top-30 and extend their season at next week’s Tour Championship.

In fact, the duo are just a place apart in the rankings with Power 36th and Lowry 37th ahead of this week’s tournament in Wilmington Country Club.

Waterford’s Power missed the cut last week at the FedEx St Jude Championship, his first appearance since missing the cut on debut at the 150th Open Championship, meaning he is without a top-10 in his last six events.

Lowry, now at 24th in the World Golf Rankings has now passed the three-year window since his last victory at the 2019 Open Championship and has had a strange two weeks.

He finished 83rd at the regular season ending Wyndham Championship where he literally didn’t know if he was coming or going, having to board a private jet back for round three after making the cut at the eleventh hour.

A 46th place finish at the FedEx St Jude did little to enhance his Tour Championship prospects but he is still in a good position and a return to form will see him through.

Both Lowry and Power have been paired together which should make for interesting viewing from an Irish perspective while Rory is one of the later starters at 7.30pm Irish time with Sepp Straka who was beaten in that enthralling playoff with Will Zalatoris last week.

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