It seems nothing – not a “high nine-figure bid”, not even the glow of the 150th Open at St. Andrews – is enough to soften Tiger Woods’ stance on LIV Golf.
During his Open Championship press conference on Tuesday, Woods delivered his most pointed critique yet of the upstart league, singling out both LIV executives and players for dismissing the golf establishment in favor a quick payday. The majority of the reviews came in the space of a single 77-second monologue when asked to share his message for players in the new league.
“As far as … players choosing to go to LIV and play there, I disagree,” Woods said. “I think what they’ve done is they’ve turned their backs on what got them into this position.”
One by one, the 15-time major champion ticked off the reasons many felt for joining the new league, and one by one he dismissed them.
At the heart of Woods’ concerns were major championships, which he pointed out remain under a cloud of uncertainty for LIV’s competitors in the long run. It remains unclear whether the Official World Golf Rankings will hand out valuable “points” – the currency by which major championship eligibility is largely decided – for the new league.
“Some of these players may never get a chance to play in major leagues. That’s a possibility,” Woods said. “We don’t know for sure yet. It’s up to all the major bodies of the championship to make this 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 this here, to walk the fairways of Augusta National That, to me, I just don’t understand.
But the majors were far from the only target of Tiger’s disdain. He criticized the new league bit by bit, from its emphasis on money to its long-term impact on the quality of the game. Woods even went so far as to accept the R&A’s decision to ban Greg Norman from participating in the annual champions dinner (“Greg has done things that I don’t think are in the best interest of our game. I think it’s the right thing to do.”) He seemed particularly miffed by the spirit new league competition, especially LIV’s fundamental shift to 54-hole events instead of the traditional 72-hole tests.
“I just don’t see how, on 54 holes – I can understand that 54 holes is almost like a warrant when you come to the Senior Tour. The guys are a bit older and a bit bumpier. But when you’re at that young age and some of those kids — they’re really kids who have transitioned from amateur golf to this organization — 72-hole testing is part of that,” Woods said. “We used to have 36-hole playoffs for major championships. It was like that before – the 18-hole US Open playoffs.
Of course, Woods is a golf historian. On Tuesday, Rory McIlroy lamented his obsession with the nuances of the golf swing, as Woods spoke with audible excitement to see 1963 Open winner Bob Charles play a practice round at the Old Course.
For a player with Tiger’s zeal for the sport’s past, LIV doesn’t make much sense as a major part of his future. Neither does the decision to leave the PGA Tour, especially when the main incentive is guaranteed money. In many ways, says Woods, these payments go against the very foundation of competitive golf.
“I understand what Jack and Arnold did [in leaving the PGA of America to found the PGA Tour] because playing pro golf at the Tour level versus a club pro is different, and I understand that transition and that move and the recognition that a tour pro versus a club pro is,” said Woods said. “But what are these players doing for guaranteed money, what’s the incentive to train? What’s the motivation to go out there and win it in the dirt? You’re just getting paid a lot of money at the Go ahead and play a few events and play 54 holes and they play loud music and have all these vibes that are different.
Since the early days of LIV, the league has stood as a beacon of improvement in the world of golf. For one man, every member of the new league has somehow referred to “positive change” as justification for diving into the morally murky waters surrounding its financiers.
This, Tiger said, is LIV’s biggest failure. Golf is not strongest for competition, and neither are its players. No one is.
“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. “, Woods said. “It would be sad to see 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.”