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Rory McIlroy has thanked Tiger Woods for easing the burden on his fellow players by joining the PGA Tour’s policy board in response to anger at the proposed deal between golf’s rival factions.
Woods and McIlroy have been the biggest advocates of the established tours in their battle with LIV Golf, but were kept in the dark before the shock announcement of a deal between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which bankrolls LIV.
Masters champion Jon Rahm said players felt a sense of “betrayal” that the deal was negotiated in secret, with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan facing calls to resign when the Framework Agreement was revealed on June 6.
Woods becoming a player-director is part of what the PGA Tour announced last week as a new agreement “to ensure that the Tour lives up to its mission of being a player-driven organisation, for the players, by the players”.
It means the new board will be made up of six player-directors, five independent directors – including a replacement for Randall Stephenson, who resigned over “serious concerns” about the deal last month – and the PGA of America director.
Woods, 47, has not played since withdrawing from April’s Masters and concedes his playing opportunities will be extremely limited going forward, but the 15-time major winner remains a hugely influential figure in the game.
McIlroy, who is also on the policy board with Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson, Charley Hoffman and Peter Malnati, said: “It’s a great addition.
“The player that, especially over the last 20 years, has left the biggest legacy on the game, for him to be involved in the discussions around the future of professional golf and what that may look like is very important.
“Tiger’s stepped up for all of us on Tour and I think he realises all the players on the policy board are trying to play regular golf and at the same time trying to navigate all these different things as well, so he’s maybe got a little bit more time on his hands than we do.
“So for him to step up and sort of take a little bit of the load off us is very much appreciated.”
McIlroy was speaking in a press conference ahead of this week’s FedEx St Jude Championship as he bids to win the overall FedEx Cup title for a fourth time.
The 34-year-old has brought an old putter out of his garage to use at TPC Southwind in Memphis as he tries to overhaul Masters champion Jon Rahm and world number one Scottie Scheffler at the top of the standings.
“I sort of treat it like a 12-round tournament,” McIlroy added of the play-offs format. “You’ve got 12 rounds to play, and you’re trying to go out there and get the best out of yourself for those 12 days.
“I missed the cut here last year and then was able to bounce back with a good finish at the BMW (Championship) and then go on and win the Tour Championship.
“If you’re up there in the standings, at least you know you’ve got a little bit of wiggle room. Going into the Tour Championship, if you’re sort of within four of the lead starting on Thursday, I think you’re in a really good spot.”
McIlroy’s place in Europe’s Ryder Cup team for this year’s contest in Rome was officially confirmed on Wednesday, along with that of Rahm, but the Northern Irishman’s preparation will be somewhat unorthodox.
After the PGA Tour season finishes McIlroy will return to Europe for the Irish Open and BMW PGA Championship, but added with a smile: “I’ve got a buddy’s bachelor party in Mykonos after Wentworth for a few days and then I have a few days to dry out before the Ryder Cup.”