“I heard that Tiger is the new commissioner [of the PGA Tour], right?” joked Cantlay, ranked No. 4 in the world and seventh in the FedEx Cup standings. “That’s what everyone said. I’m going to the meeting [Tuesday night]. I will listen to what it is about.”
Woods, a 15-time major champion, was outspoken about his loyalty to the PGA Tourdeclining an offer of between $700 million and $800 million from LIV, Greg Norman, the organization’s CEO, said Fox News in an interview this month. Ahead of the British Open in July, Woods said the players on the new exit circuit “turned their backs on what allowed them to get to this position.”
Cantlay, meanwhile, arrived in Delaware never played at Wilmington Country Club but energized by his victory a year ago; that coming triumphwhich required six playoff holes, came at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md.
The runner-up at last year’s tournament, however, is not in the field at this week’s tournament, and Bryson DeChambeau’s conspicuous absence has nothing to do with his performance on the golf course. DeChambeau left the PGA Tour earlier in the summer to join the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV series for a reported nine-figure deal, among the most high-profile flashpoints in the contentious saga that has dominated this golf season.
A look at BMW’s leaderboard last year, when Cantlay and DeChambeau set a tournament record for a pair at 27 under through 72 holes, reinforces the importance of the feud.
Former major champions Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia, for example, finished in a two-way tie for sixth last year but are not playing this week, having lost their PGA Tour eligibility. Also absent is Abraham Ancer, who tied for ninth at the BMW in 2021.
All three defected to LIV, the series with ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who, according to US intelligence officialsapproved the operation that led to the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
And so, while nearly all of the top 70 players in the PGA Tour’s playoff points race will be in Delaware this week, several of the sport’s best-known stars will not.
“One of the great things about the PGA Tour is the depth of the field,” said Jon Rahm, the fifth-ranked player in the world who tied for ninth at the BMW Championship last year. “So there is always a hungrier future star who is willing to work and make himself known. Lack of talent on the PGA Tour and the world of golf is not a problem.
“Again you may have lost some names, but you are gaining some great golfers. … I don’t think we’re basically losing that much because, like I said, you just know some great players that have been there that you haven’t heard of before.”
Rahm, 27, was sincere also about his allegiance to the PGA Tour, with the 2021 US Open winner indicating that the potential to earn hundreds of millions with LIV would not be life-changing. His attitude was in complete contrast to that of another of the young important champions of the game, Cameron Smith.
The 28-year-old Australian, who won last month’s British Open at St. Andrews, was coy when asked about his commitment to the PGA Tour afterward report in the Telegraph that Smith intends to defect to LIV for a contract worth $100 million.
The tour announced on Monday that Smith had withdrawn from the BMW due to “hip discomfort”, according to accompanying statement from his agent. Smith’s withdrawal came two days after he drew two stroke penalty at the St. Jude Championshipthe first of the three final legs of the FedEx Cup.
Smith, ranked second in the world, is third in the FedEx Cup standings heading into the second round of the 68-player playoffs.
“Definitely, fields around here have gotten weaker, missing those guys,” Cantlay said, walking away from other PGA Tour luminaries. “That’s just one of the unfortunate circumstances that happens when you have a little bit of a fractured sport as far as the best players where they play, especially compared to all the consistency we’ve had in the past where almost every single one of the majors players play all these events.”
The BMW field typically includes 70 players, after the top 125 in the standings qualify for the opening event. But in addition to Smith retiring, Tommy Fleetwood does not participate in the finals for personal reasons, the Englishman. posted on Twitter.
There are no alternates in the FedEx Cup playoffs, which will culminate with the top 30 in the standings competing at next week’s Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. The winner of the FedEx Cup gets $18 million, an increase of $3 million from what Cantlay pocketed as last year’s champion.
“It’s still an incredibly amazing field,” said reigning US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, ranked 11th in the world and 12th in the FedEx Cup standings after tying for fifth at the St. Jewish “The field this week is  of the best players in the world. Yes, I think only three of them are not here. It’s not a massive loss in my opinion.”