Tiger Woods rips LIV Golf players who ‘turned their backs’ on sport by choosing money over big leagues
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — The one voice that has been somewhat absent from the weekly PGA Tour-LIV Golf conversation has been perhaps the most important voice in golf. Tiger Woods on Tuesday, ahead of the 150th Open Championship, gave his longest and strongest rejection in the Greg Norman-led, Saudi-backed league.
Interestingly, Woods’ reasoning was not focused on the PGA Tour, the league he’s belonged to for more than a quarter century, but rather on the major championships. Currently, LIV Golf events do not receive Official World Golf Ranking points, which will make it extremely difficult for its players to work their way into future major tournaments beyond any exemptions they may currently enjoy.
As a result, this could be the last open championship for Sergio Garcia and the last major for others like Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, who all play for LIV Golf. Neither the major championship organizations nor the OWGR Board of Directors have made a final decision regarding LIV Golf. Both are very up in the air.
“I disagree with [players going to LIV]”Woods said. “I think what they did was they turned their backs on[s] on what allowed them to arrive at this position. Some players have never even had the chance to experience it. They went straight from the amateur ranks to this organization and never really had a chance to play here and what it’s like to play a touring schedule or play in big events.
“And who knows what’s going to happen in the near future with the world ranking points, the criteria to get into the big leagues. The governing body is going to have to figure that out.
“Some of these players may never get the chance to play in major leagues. That’s a possibility. We don’t know for sure yet. It’s up to all major league bodies to make that decision. But it’s a possibility that some players will never, ever have the chance to play in a major championship, will never have the chance to experience that here, to walk the fairways of Augusta National.”
Tiger didn’t even seem able to grasp the concept of a person choosing the money over the opportunity to compete in majors.
“I just don’t understand,” he said. “I understand what Jack [Nicklaus] and Arnold [Palmer] because playing pro golf at the tour level versus a club pro is different, and I understand that transition and that movement and the recognition that a tour pro versus a club pro is.
“But what are these players doing for guaranteed money, what’s the incentive to train? What’s the incentive to go out there and earn it in the mud? You just get paid a lot of money ahead and play a few events and play 54 holes. They play loud music and have all these atmospheres that are different.”
Woods’ voice has always carried a ton of weight – that’s how it works when it comes to the most prolific champions – but in St. Andrews for a historic Open, he seemed to be almost wisely, a label that he was never really comfortable accepting but will no doubt be imposed on him in the years to come.
In this case, it actually seemed about.
“I can understand that 54 holes is almost like a warrant when you come to the Senior Tour; the guys are a little older and a little more stoned. But when you’re at that young age and some of those kids – they really are kids who went from amateur golf to this organization – 72-hole testing is one of them,” Woods continued. “We used to have 36-hole playoffs for major championships. It was like that before: 18-hole US Open playoffs.
“I just don’t see how this decision is positive long-term for a lot of these players, especially if the LIV organization doesn’t get world ranking points and major leagues change their event entry criteria. .to be sad that some of these young kids never get the chance to experience it and experience what we are blessed to experience and walk on these hallowed grounds and play in these championships.”
For someone like Tiger to risk the opportunity to play in future majors is a failure.
Yes, Woods has already won on both counts — money and major trophies — but his message was clear on Tuesday at St. Andrews. If given a choice of one or the other, the decision – no matter how much money is at stake,— would be extraordinarily easy.
Money can’t buy chances at major tournaments, and for Woods, that’s — and always has been — the most important thing.