Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy became leaders in the move to solidify the strengths of the PGA Tour at what Woods has called the Delaware Meeting. The outcome of that was increasing the purses of certain tournaments, including the Genesis Invitational which Tiger Woods hosts.
"“From a marketing side of it and from the Tour side of it and the future of our sport, it’s been very positive,” Woods said about the changes to the tournaments in question. “We need to keep going with it and need to stay aligned and keep progressing and making it better. We need to produce the best product we possibly can to sell to all the viewerships.”"
Woods said he has talked to the entire range of PGA Tour members, from those at the very top to those in the middle to those perhaps struggling lately.
"“Yes, I’ve talked to the whole gamut,” he said. “There’s mixed emotions, but at the end of the day we’re trying to create the best product, and how do we do that. That’s what we’re trying to do, and we’re still figuring it out.”"
Tiger Woods noted that the PGA wants to create the next stars in golf.
The important aspect, according to Tiger Woods, is that the top players are in agreement as to what needs to be done. Because it’s always the top players that drive interest, whether media interest, television interest, or other forms of communication, they realize that they need to be in agreement, and they need to show up.
Importantly, Woods noted that the PGA Tour will and wants to create the next stars in golf.
You need look no further than Scottie Scheffler, Max Homa, or Tom Kim to realize that.
Woods said he was lucky that he got an invitation to the LA Open, now the Genesis Invitational, when he was 16.
"“I can remember here or there, I was like 17 back of Davis (Love),” he recalled. “I realized yes, there is a disparity and there’s a gap. Could I have played a little bit better? Yes, I could have probably played four or five shots better, but I was not that good. Realized I needed to go back to high school golf, get better there, better at the junior golf.”"
Then Byron Nelson extended an invitation to his tournament. Woods said that by seeing what professional golfers could do, and by asking them questions and seeing their technique, he was able to figure out what he still needed to learn to be good enough for the PGA Tour.
Tiger Woods said the process of changing the schedule and changing the perceived value of tournaments has been difficult for many players.
"“A lot of the players have been very forthright, which is great, it’s the way it should be,” he said. “We’re a players run organization, so yes, we should have the voice and ultimate say with you. We’re trying to help our commissioner create what he can sell so that all of us can benefit.”"
They are still having conversations about different models for the Tour, trying to determine the best product for golf and the competition and what they need to do in the future. They are considering some limited fields, but they already have several limited fields. They are looking at the cut numbers and what they should do there.
They have already changed the number of guaranteed cards at the end of the season to the top 70 in FedEx Cup points. But there is also a need to give players between 70 and 125 an opportunity to keep their playing privileges and they have done that.
In addition, there are going to be tournaments that want and need more than 125 players. Most have something higher than 125 and go up to 156, depending on available daylight.
Because the new stars will come from regular tour events, just as Woods did, it’s important to have opportunities for all levels of player. Woods began his career at the Greater Milwaukee Open, a tournament no longer on the schedule. His first victory was at the Las Vegas Invitational, now the Shriners Children’s Open, which is a fall tournament.
What all this means is that the PGA Tour is not done reinventing itself. It intends to continue to evolve to create the best tour for professional golf.
Once again, Woods had high praise for Rory McIlroy.
"“It’s been an ebb and flow, it really has. And it’s been difficult, there’s no lie,” he said. “You’ve seen our ambassador, Rory, go through it. It’s been tough on him, but he’s been exceptional. To be able to go through all that, I’ve been with him on all those conference calls and side meetings, and for him to go out there and play and win, it’s been incredible.”"
In the first two rounds of the Genesis Invitational, Woods and McIlroy and Justin Thomas will play together. That will be an interesting matchup of guys who have come through Woods’ latest injury and the challenge from LIV to become as close as brothers.
They are not the only ones, certainly, as Tiger Woods has had calls, texts, and messages from many PGA Tour members as well as many people outside of golf.
Woods saluted their friendship by saying, “These guys texting me and egging me on, the banter back and forth, just incredible support, and I would never have gotten to this point or made it back to this point without their support.”