Rory McIlroy emphasised his opposition to the LIV Golf Series following his FedEx Cup victory on Sunday, saying he hates what it's doing to the sport.

McIlroy beat world number one Scottie Scheffler in a dramatic final round of the Tour Championship to become the first three-time winner of the FedEx Cup.

But given the 33-year-old has been among the most vocal opponents to the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf, attention quickly turned to the overall state of the sport after his success at East Lake.

He was happy to make his feelings clear.

"If you believe in something, I think you have to speak up, and I believe very strongly about this. I really do," he said at a press conference.

"I hate what it's doing to the game of golf. I hate it... It's going to be hard for me to stomach going to Wentworth [at the PGA Championship] in a couple of weeks' time and seeing 18 of them there. That just doesn't sit right with me.

"So yeah, I feel strongly. I believe what I'm saying are the right things, and I think when you believe that what you're saying is the right things, you're happy to stick your neck out on the line."

McIlroy was appointed as chair of the PGA Tour's Player Advisory Council in February 2021, and said it felt "fitting" to get the FedEx Cup win after finishing in the top eight of all four majors this year but not winning any.

"It’s been a tumultuous time for the world of men's professional golf in particular. I've been right in the middle of it. I've picked a great time to go on the PGA Tour board," he said.

"I've been in the thick of things. I guess every chance I get, I'm trying to defend what I feel is the best place to play elite professional golf in the world.

"It's in some ways fitting that I was able to get this done today to sort of round off a year that has been very, very challenging and different."

McIlroy came from six shots behind to pip Scheffler to the win on Sunday and had a simple message when asked why he thinks he thrives as a chaser.

"Because I think probably out of everyone in the field, I care the least about the money," he stated.

Rory McIlroy became the first three-time winner of the FedEx Cup after coming from six shots behind to win the Tour Championship, beating Scottie Scheffler and Im Sung-jae by one stroke at the end of a thrilling final round.

McIlroy, who also lifted the trophy in 2016 and 2019, required a spectacular collapse from world number one Scheffler to seal his victory on Sunday.

With six holes to play after the third round was halted due to lightning, Scheffler came back and birdied four, leaving Xander Schauffele in his wake as he built a six-shot buffer heading into the last trip around East Lake Golf Club.

But after rounds of 65, 66 and 66, Scheffler posted four bogeys and one birdie for a three-over 73, dropping back to 20 under. No player shot worse than 73 in the final round.

McIlroy did not reach the outright lead until Scheffler gave it to him, bogeying the 16th to leave McIlroy alone atop the leaderboard with two holes to play.

Despite a hook with his final tee shot, McIlroy kept his cool, recovering and tapping in his two-putt for the win, and he acknowledged Scheffler in his speech during the trophy presentation.

"What a day," he said. "Firstly, there's one thing I want to say – I feel like Scottie deserves at least half of this today.

"He has had an unbelievable season – I feel sort of bad that I pipped him at the post, but he's a hell of a competitor, and an even better guy, and it was an honour and a privilege to battle with him today. I'm sure we'll have many more.

"I told him today 'we're one-all in Georgia this year' – because he got the Masters, and I got this."

Finishing tied with Scheffler in second-place was Im, with his metronomic consistency leading to rounds of 67, 65, 66 and 66 for his 20 under.

Schauffele had appeared likely to race past Scheffler before the lightning struck on Saturday, and he struggled after resuming in the morning, going one-over from his last six holes of the third round before posting a 69 to finish alone in fourth place at 18 under.

Max Homa ended up sneaking into the top-five after opening the week with a 71, following it with rounds of 62, 66 and 66 to finish at 17 under, tied with Justin Thomas.

Sepp Straka and Patrick Cantlay were a further shot back, tied for seventh at 16 under, with Tony Finau (15 under) and Tom Hoge (14 under) rounding out the top-10. Finau shot Sunday's round of the day with his 64, posting seven birdies and one bogey.

Rory McIlroy described his record-breaking third FedEx Cup victory as a "proud moment" for the PGA Tour amid the circuit's ongoing battle with the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

McIlroy saw off world number one Scottie Scheffler in a dramatic final round to triumph at the Tour Championship on Sunday, becoming the first three-time winner of the FedEx Cup.

The 33-year-old, who also claimed the title in 2016 and 2019, moved clear of two-time champion Tiger Woods, who was victorious in 2007 and 2009.

Away from the course, McIlroy has emerged as one of the most prominent critics of the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed LIV series, which is headed up by Greg Norman and counts the likes of Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Sergio Garcia among its star-studded field. 

McIlroy chose to reaffirm his commitment to the PGA Tour after clinching a one-shot victory over Scheffler in Atlanta, saying:  "It means an awful lot. 

"I believe in the game of golf, I believe in this tour in particular, I believe in the players on this tour. 

"It's the greatest place in the world to play golf, and I've played all over the world. 

"This is an incredibly proud moment for me, but it should also be an incredibly proud moment for the PGA Tour. They've had some hard times this year, but we're getting through it. 

"That was a spectacle out there today – two of the best players in the world going head-to-head for the biggest prize on the PGA Tour. I hope everyone at home enjoyed that."

McIlroy, who began his final round at the PGA Tour's season finale six strokes off the lead, also acknowledged Scheffler's shortcomings turned the tide in his favour.

"I've been in the final group here three of the past five years, starting with Tiger in 2018 and that incredible scene. Then to get the better of Brooks [Koepka] in 2019 was awesome," he added.

"Another final group here – I didn't give myself much of a chance teeing off today – I thought, six behind, I thought it was going to be really tough to make up.

"My good play, and Scottie's not-so-great play, and it was a ball-game going into the back-nine."

Scottie Scheffler delivered a storming finish to his third round at the Tour Championship to carry a six-shot lead into the final 18 holes at East Lake.

After nearby lightning strikes caused play to be suspended on Saturday, world number one Scheffler returned re-energised on Sunday morning to grasp control of the leaderboard.

Xander Schauffele had pulled to just one stroke behind Scheffler, but the leader made his big move with four birdies in his closing six holes when play resumed.

Scheffler had been level par for his third round through 12 holes, which is the point at which he had to leave the course the previous day, but Sunday's surge carried the 26-year-old to a 66 and 23 under par for the tournament.

Playing partner Schauffele could not muster a response to Scheffler, and he made bogey at the long par-four 14th to see the gap widen, having to settle for a level-par 70.

Rory McIlroy birdied 17 and 18 to complete a seven-under 63 and join Schauffele in a tie for second place through 54 holes, on 17 under par, with South Korea's Im Sung-jae and American Patrick Cantlay one shot further back.

The final event of the FedEx Cup sees the winner of the Tour Championship pocket staggering prize money of $18million, with the runner-up taking $6.5million.

Scheffler began the tournament on 10 under, under the unusual format that saw a staggered start based on performances in the previous FedEx Cup events.

He was the leader of the series standings so was duly rewarded, with second-placed Cantlay starting the week on eight under.

Saturday's third round of the Tour Championship was suspended due to lightning strikes in the area, but not before plenty of action took place, with Xander Schauffele pulling to within one stroke of leader Scottie Scheffler.

It is not just Schauffele who has given himself a chance either, as he was the only player within six strokes of Scheffler after 36 holes, but there are now eight players within that range.

While Scheffler did not drop any shots – at even par through 12 holes before the weather hit – he is the only player in the top-17 who was not under par on Saturday, with one birdie and one bogey to remain at 19 under.

Schauffele had chances to go past his playing partner, but inconsistency has held him back, with three bogeys to go with his four birdies as he is now at 18 under.

He had a four-stroke buffer to third place entering the day, but that has been cut in half as South Korea's Im Sung-jae is putting together another strong round, four-under through 14 holes to sit alone at 16 under.

Rory McIlroy is one further back – the only player at 15 under – and he has posted four birdies, one eagle and one bogey in his round to be five under with two holes to play.

A star-studded group is tied for fifth at 14 under, consisting of Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay and Sepp Straka, with Straka and Thomas both enjoying six-under rounds.

The only player to be better than six under on Saturday was Hideki Matsuyama, who shot a seven-under 63 to take sole possession of ninth place at 13 under. He had eight birdies, with his only bogey coming on the 10th hole.

Max Homa is in the group tied for 10th at 12 under, Collin Morikawa is at 11 under, and J.T. Poston is at 10 under, with the rest of the field at least 10 shots off the lead.

Scottie Scheffler and Xander Schauffele have broken away from the field after two rounds of the Tour Championship, with Scheffler at 19 under and Schauffele the only player within six strokes, sitting at 17 under.

Scheffler, the world number one, started the season's final event at 10 under due to finishing atop the FedEx Cup standings, and he established a five-stroke lead in his first trip around East Lake Golf Club with a five-under 65.

He was strong again on Friday to post a bogey-free 66, but his lead was trimmed by three shots as second-placed Schauffele produced six birdies and an eagle with one bogey to shoot 63, one shot off the round of the day.

The 18th hole could end up being a turning point in the event, as Scheffler opted to play it safe on the par five while Schauffele decided to take on the water to make the green from his second shot. It resulted in a two-stroke swing as Schauffele eagled the last, cutting the deficit in half from four shots to two.

Only three players posted Friday scores better than 65, with Jon Rahm flying up the leaderboard into outright third place at 13 under after his 63. His eight birdies were the most in the round.

The rest of the field is at least seven shots back from the lead, with Patrick Cantlay and Im Sung-jae tied for fourth at 12 under, Joaquin Niemann alone in sixth at 11 under, and Rory McIlroy has sole possession of seventh at 10 under.

The round of the day went to Max Homa, who went bogey-free with six birdies and an eagle to post a 62 for the best 18 of the tournament so far.

After five birdies from his first eight holes, Homa rattled off seven pars in a row, before a birdie on 16 and an eagle on the last.

Matt Fitzpatrick was Thursday's top performer, but he struggled to a 71 in his second trip around the course, and he is tied at eight under in a group that includes Justin Thomas.

Cameron Smith also shot 71 to drop a shot back to six under, where he is joined by Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Collin Morikawa.

It will be "odd" and "disappointing" to see LIV Golf Invitational Series players featuring at next month's BMW PGA Championship, Matt Fitzpatrick says.

Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed are among those who have made the switch to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf but still appear on the entry list for the tournament at Wentworth.

While the PGA Tour has banned defectors from its events, they are still allowed to participate on the DP World Tour, which lost a court case against players ahead of a full ruling.

This means vocal critics of LIV Golf, like Rory McIlroy, appearing alongside some of the controversial league's biggest names in direct competition.

U.S. Open champion Fitzpatrick will also be in action, and he will find it strange to see these players back in the field.

"It's going to be odd seeing certain people, obviously, at Wentworth," he said.

"That is going to be a bit weird, and obviously it's a little bit disappointing. But they won their little thing.

"But yeah, it's going to be interesting to see what happens. Obviously, they're [the DP World Tour] not quite in as strong a position as the PGA Tour are in terms of regulations.

"I guess we'll just have to see how it plays out."

Scottie Scheffler ended the first day of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club with a five-stroke lead at 15 under thanks to the combination of a fine display and his FedEx Cup points advantage.

Scheffler, who enjoyed a meteoric rise this PGA Tour season to earn the ranking of world number one, began the tournament at 10 under par thanks to his position atop the FedEx Cup standings coming into Thursday's first round.

And he bolstered his hopes of claiming FedEx Cup success with a five-under 65 that ensured he heads into Friday with gaping five-stroke lead.

In second is Xander Schauffele at 10 under after his four-under round, while Matt Fitzpatrick is third after being one of two players to shoot the round of the day (64).

The other 64 came from Chile's Joaquin Neimann, who has pulled himself into contention in a tie for fourth, where he is joined at eight under by Patrick Cantlay.

Cantlay started the day at eight under and needed an eagle on the last hole just to post an even-par round after winning last week's BMW Championship.

A further shot back at seven under is Im Sung-jae, Cameron Smith and Rory McIlroy, all of whom started at four under and shot 67s.

It was by no means a consistent round from McIlroy, however. He was four over par for the round after the fourth hole and he tallied only four pars in what was an erratic showing.

Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Sepp Straka, Sam Burns and Cameron Young are the last players to sneak into the top-10, tied for ninth at six under, while Collin Morikawa headlines the small group at five under.

Corey Conners was Thursday's worst performer, finishing his day at three over after shooting 74 to sit in 29th, with the 30th entrant, Will Zalatoris, having withdrawn earlier in the week after suffering a back injury at the BMW Championship.

Rory McIlroy believes the announced enhancements to the PGA Tour are "a great step in the right direction" as the battle with the LIV Golf Invitational Series rages on.

On Wednesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan introduced several changes to the Tour, with the key emphasis on bringing the leading players together more often.

The announcements came after Tiger Woods and other leading players met last week to discuss what the PGA Tour should do going forward.

LIV Golf has sent shockwaves through the sport with many high-profile players making the switch to the Saudi-backed tour, including Phil Mickelson, and the Open winner Cameron Smith is reportedly set to follow suit.

Other alterations announced included a commitment from top players to feature in at least 20 PGA Tour events per year, an expansion to the player impact program and the guarantee of minimum earnings for full Tour members.

Four elevated events with purses of at least $20million have been added, taking the schedule up to 12 such tournaments next season, and the top players have agreed to compete in all of them.

McIlroy was encouraged by the changes, telling reporters ahead of the Tour Championship: "I care deeply about our sport. I care about its history. I care about its legacy. I care about the integrity of the game. 

"We all sort of are our own little independent businesses and we sort of try to compete against each other, and I think this is the first time in a long time where we sort of all sat down and were like, let's try to be business partners.

"How can we all pull in the same direction here to benefit everyone and to help the entire TOUR and to help each other basically.

"Unfortunately, Tiger Woods doesn't play as much as he used to. Tiger Woods was the single biggest draw that the PGA Tour had, amongst other things. We have to recognise that.

"So for the 23 of us that were in that room last Tuesday, including Tiger, we all have to sit down [and ask], okay, what is the best thing for our Tour going forward?

"What can we do to help put forward the best product possible so that in 50 years' time the PGA Tour is still thriving and we can safeguard the future of the Tour? That was basically what last week was about.

"Obviously that has culminated in some of the announcements that have been made today [Wednesday]. I'm sure there will be some changes going forward, as well, but I think today was a great step in the right direction."

When questioned on how the changes would benefit the Tour, the four-time major winner replied: "If you're trying to sell a product to TV and to sponsors and to try to get as many eyeballs on professional golf as possible, you need to at least let people know what they're tuning in for.

"When I tune into a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, I expect to see Tom Brady throw a football. When I tune into a Formula 1 race, I expect to see Lewis Hamilton in a car.

"Sometimes what's happened on the PGA Tour is we all act independently and we sort of have our own schedules, and that means that we never really get together all that often.

"I think what came out of the meeting last week and what Jay just was up here announcing is the fact that we've all made a commitment to get together more often to make the product more compelling."

McIlroy also revealed he had spoken to Smith about his reported defection to LIV Golf.

"I had a conversation with Cameron Smith two days after the Open. Firstly, I wanted to congratulate him," McIlroy disclosed.

"But I would at least like people to make a decision that is completely informed and basically know this is what's coming down the pipeline. This is what you may be leaving behind.

"I just don't want people making decisions – hearing information from one side and not from another. So I think that's sort of been my whole thing this entire time.

"I've always said guys can do whatever they want. Guys can make a decision that they feel is best for themselves and their families. But I want guys to make decisions based on all of the facts."

 

Patrick Cantlay entered Sunday's final round of the BMW Championship with the outright lead, and he ended it with his second consecutive win at the event after birdieing his 17th hole to pull ahead by one stroke, finishing at 14 under.

He is the first player in the 16-year history of the FedEx Cup playoffs to successfully defend one of the playoff events.

On a tough scoring day where only three players shot better than 68, Cantlay kept his cool, taking advantage of Scott Stallings' missed birdie putt on 18 that would have also moved him to 14 under, draining his own final birdie moments later to head onto the 72nd hole with the lead.

Things threatened to heat up after Cantlay's last tee shot veered right into the bunker, but with a few branches hanging over his direct line to the flag, he played it safe and landed his approach on the open left-side of the green, leaving a 15-yard two-putt to win the tournament.

In his typical stoic fashion, he stepped up and nearly birdied it, lipping out for a tap-in par to secure back-to-back victories at the BMW Championship. 

It is Cantlay's 11th top-10 finish of the season, giving him the most for this PGA Tour season, leading Matt Fitzpatrick and Scottie Scheffler with 10.

Speaking to The Golf Channel after stepping off the 18th green, Cantlay said it takes a little bit of luck to win events like these, highlighting his tee shot on the 17th hole which looked destined for the bunker, only to bounce over and land in the middle of the fairway to set up his winning birdie.

"I hit a lot of solid shots, and then I got a couple of good breaks," he said. "Obviously on 17, that isn't a break I'm expecting, and it was really big for me to take advantage of it. 

"I've played a lot of great golf this week, and I'm happy to come away with the win.

"I made a lot of clutch five and four-footers today, the putter felt really good today, really solid, and I'll hopefully carry that into next week."

Stallings finished in outright second at 13 under, jumping up from 46th in the FedEx Cup standings to 12th, comfortably landing inside the top-30 to book his spot in the coming week's Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Course.

In the two-way tie for third at 11 under was world number one Scottie Scheffler and Xander Schauffele, and in a tie for fifth at 10 under was Canada's Corey Conners, South Korea's Lee Kyoung-hoon, and Australia's Adam Scott.

Lee and Scott had plenty to play for on Sunday, as Lee shot the round of the day with a 65 to leapfrog into the top-30, while Scott needed a bunker save on the 18th hole to book his spot in the Tour Championship, and he did so, finishing 29th in the FedEx Cup standings.

Rounding out the top-10 at nine under was a group that included Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, while Shane Lowry was one of three players to finish at eight under, and he was the unlucky player to fall out of the top-30 as Scott jumped in.

Sahith Theegala's tie for 15th at seven under was good enough to finish 28th in the FedEx Cup standings, Jordan Spieth was at six under, and Cameron Young, who looked like a potential winner heading into the weekend, ended up at five under after back-to-back 72s on Saturday and Sunday.

Defending champion and world number four Patrick Cantlay stormed into a one-shot lead at the final turn at the BMW Championship at Wilmington Country Club after a six-under-round of 65 on Saturday.

Cantlay had three birdies on a bogey-free front nine, but catapulted himself up the leaderboard down the back nine with birdies on the 12th and 13th holes, followed by a 104-yard eagle hole-out on the 14th.

The American had bogeyed on the penultimate hole after missing a routine putt but made birdie on the 18th after an excellent approach to re-claim his outright lead by one stroke ahead of Xander Schauffele and Scott Stallings.

Last year's FedEx Cup champion Cantlay is 12 under at the top, with Schauffele and Stallings both carding five-under rounds of 66 on Saturday to move up to 11-under overall.

Adam Scott, who led by one stroke at the halfway mark, is third on 10 under alongside world number one Scottie Scheffler.

Scheffler was on track for a share of the lead, at the very least, but back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes stalled his progress before a birdie on the last after a fine 136-yard approach kept him in touch.

Two-time major winner Collin Morikawa and Aaron Wise are within range at nine under, while Rory McIlroy is back at seven under after four bogeys on Saturday including one on the 18th.

Cameron Young shot a one-over-round of 72 to slip to six-under overall, with Jon Rahm finding his form with a six-under-round of 65 but he remains back at five-under overall after his slow start.

Jordan Spieth slipped way out of contention to be four-under overall after a disastrous third round, carding a three-over 74 with a double bogey in the fifth hole, along with five bogeys and four birdies.

Last week's FedEx St. Jude Championship winner Will Zalatoris retired mid-round after succumbing to a lower back injury.

After two rounds of the BMW Championship at Wilmington Country Club it is Adam Scott alone atop the leaderboard at eight under, but some of the sport's biggest stars are breathing down his neck.

Scott shot the second-best score of the opening round with a six-under 65, and he was in position to put a gap on the field as he was sitting at 10 under with two holes to play before a costly double bogey on the 17th saw him post a 69 on his second trip around the course.

An incredibly strong four-man group is one stroke back at seven under, consisting of American trio Jordan Spieth, Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Young along with Canada's Corey Conners.

Only two players – Kurt Kitayama and Keith Mitchell (both 66s) – shot better than Scheffler, Conners and Spieth's 67 on Friday as they marched up the leaderboard.

Also shooting a 67 was Australia's Cam Davis, helping him to six under in a tie for sixth, where is joined by Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay and Scott Stallings in a loaded top-10.

More serious contenders are at five under, including major champions Shane Lowry and Hideki Matsuyama, with Lowry projected to sneak into the top-30 of the FedEx Cup rankings and earn a berth into the Tour Championship if he can hold on.

Also at five under is Kitayama, who was Friday's best putter according to Data Golf's strokes gained stats, with his 3.75 strokes gained leading second-placed Matsuyama (3.31 strokes gained).

First-round leader Keegan Bradley shot a 74 to fall down to four under, where he is joined by Tyrrell Hatton and Lee Kyoung-hoon, while Will Zalatoris, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas are a further stroke back in the logjam at three under. 

Rising talent Sahith Theegala is at two under, Max Homa is at one under and the pairing of Matt Fitzpatrick and Viktor Hovland are the top names at even par.

Jon Rahm enters the weekend at one over, given there is no cut for this tournament, and despite being Friday's best driver (1.84 strokes gained, McIlroy second at 1.49), he was the third-worst in approach shots (2.45 strokes lost) and second-worst in the around-the-green category (1.96 strokes lost).

Keegan Bradley rode a hot putter to the outright lead after 18 holes of the BMW Championship, finishing Thursday's play with a seven-under 64.

Bradley entered the week ranked 44th in the FedEx Cup standings, outside the top-30 who will qualify for next week's Tour Championship, but put himself in a great position thanks in large part to his work on the greens.

He collected six birdies on the front nine, and according to Data Golf's strokes gained stats, Bradley was the top overall putter in the opening round, picking up 4.00 strokes with the flat stick, while also coming in seventh in the approach category (2.02 strokes gained).

It was a similar story for Adam Scott in outright second at six under, finishing third in putting (3.30 strokes gained) and 11th in approach shots (1.82 strokes gained).

In a tie for third at five under is the trio of Harold Varner III, Shane Lowry and Justin Thomas – but they all made it there in different ways.

Varner excelled in the tee-to-green category, putting a gap on the field as he gained 5.28 strokes, with Lowry in second-place at 3.32. While Varner was the third-best driver on the day, Lowry was actually a negative off the tee, but led the field in the approach category.

Meanwhile, Thomas was solid just about everywhere, finishing on the fringe of the top-10 in tee-to-green, around the green and putting categories – despite lipping out a four-footer for his only bogey on the 15th hole.

The logjam at four under includes Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Cameron Young, and there is a star-studded group one further back at three under featuring Patrick Cantlay, Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. McIlroy will be left ruing a calamitous showing at the par-three 15th hole, where he found the water to triple-bogey when he was one stroke off the lead.

U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick headlines the group at two under, Hideki Matsuyama and Will Zalatoris are at one under, and recent 20-year-old winner Joo-hyung 'Tom' Kim is at even par.

Viktor Hovland and Jon Rahm will be disappointed with their rounds at two over, and the previously red-hot Tony Finau is likely out of the hunt as only two players shot worse than his six-over 77.

Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas have praised the leadership qualities of Tiger Woods after a small group of leading players met to discuss the ongoing threat posed by LIV Golf to the long-established PGA Tour.

Woods, a 15-time major champion, flew to Delaware on Tuesday to meet fellow professionals involved in the BMW Championship, including the likes of McIlroy, Thomas and Jordan Spieth.

While the details of the meeting remain undisclosed, Woods was reportedly trying to rally support from his fellow PGA Tour professionals over the battle with the breakaway series.

The 46-year-old, who is believed to have turned down an offer between $700million and $800million to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf, has insisted he will play in limited events in the future as his glittering career winds down.

Nevertheless, his presence at the discussion was hugely valued by McIlroy, who feels that all in attendance are on the same page regarding what the PGA Tour must do during the ongoing battle.

The four-time major winner said: "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.

"I think it shows how much [Tiger] cares about the players that are coming through and are going to be the next generation. We're moving into a different era, and we just have to think about things a little differently.

"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. They've got a bunch of us and we're all great players, but we're not Tiger Woods. 

"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."

Reigning US PGA Championship winner Thomas added: "It was a productive meeting. I think it's just one of those things where we all want what's best for the players, and we're working to do that.

"I think if someone like [Tiger] is passionate about it, no offence to all of us, but that's really all that matters.

"If he's not behind something, then one, it's probably not a good idea in terms of the betterment of the game, but two, it's just not going to work. He needs to be behind something."

J.J. Spaun holds the outright lead at halfway at the FedEx St. Jude Championship while 2022 Open Championship winner Cameron Smith made his move and Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler missed the cut.

Spaun had shared the lead with Kim Si-woo after the opening day at TPC Southwind and backed that up with a three-under-par round of 67 to lead at 11 under after 36 holes. The American maintained his lead with five birdies along with two bogeys in his round.

Kim slid down the leaderboard after a three-over-par round with Sepp Straka, who finished with three straight birdies, and Troy Merritt in joint second at 10 under behind Spaun, with Denny McCarthy one shot behind them.

Merritt, McCarthy and Smith all carded five-under-par rounds of 65, with the latter moving up the leaderboard with birdies and an eagle on the par-five 16th hole.

The Australian is eight-under-par after two rounds, equal with Brian Harman, Tony Finau and Ryan Palmer.

Kevin Kisner is a further shot back after seven birdies highlighted his round of six-under-par 64, but that was bettered by both Tyler Duncan and Will Zalatoris.

Duncan and Zalatoris carded rounds of 63, with the former going bogey free and draining seven birdies to move into joint ninth.

Zalatoris had shot a first-day 71 but improved with seven birdies across a bogey-free round too, but is six under overall.

McIlroy headlined the list of names to miss the cut, with three bogeys holding him back, including one on the 18th hole, as he shot 69 to fall short by one stroke.

World number one Scottie Scheffler also failed to make the cut, despite an improved second round, not helped by a double bogey on the par-four ninth hole.

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