(Reuters) - Rory McIlroy hailed the influence of "hero" Tiger Woods after the 15-times major champion met with fellow PGA Tour players to discuss the controversial LIV Golf series.
The eight-event LIV series, which offers $255 million in prize money and is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, has shaken the sport to its core with the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Bubba Watson among the high-profile names to have signed on.
Woods, who returned to action this year after a 17-month absence following a car crash in February 2021, turned down an offer in the region of $700-800 million to join the breakaway circuit, according to its CEO Greg Norman.
Woods attended the meeting of PGA Tour players on the sidelines of the BMW Championship in Delaware despite not qualifying for this week's second FedEx Cup playoff event.
"I think it shows how much he cares about the Tour," four-times major winner McIlroy told reporters. "I think it shows how much he cares about the players that are coming through and are going to be the next generation.
"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 it's pretty apparent that whenever we all get in the room there's an alpha in there, and it's not me."
Players participating in LIV Golf events have been suspended by the PGA Tour and sanctioned by Europe's DP World Tour.
Mickelson and 10 other players filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour this month, alleging that it broke antitrust law by refusing to let them participate on the U.S.-based Tour.
"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," McIlroy said.
"We need to get the top guys together more often than we do."
(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)