Tiger Woods has a voice that can be as big as his golf game.
What he lacks is enough visibility.
Woods left little room for interpretation Tuesday as 15-time major champion Greg Norman denounced Saudi Arabia-funded LIV golf series as not in the best interest of golf. He said players who couldn’t resist the money — some paid more than Woods did in his entire PGA Tour career — “turned their backs on the Tour that made them famous.”
Nobody is as famous as Woods. He is not just the locomotive that drives the train. For the modern game, he is the entire railroad.
“What these players do for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practice? What’s the incentive to go out and make it in the dirt?” said Wald. “You just get paid a lot of money up front and play a few events and play 54 holes.”
It was his strongest comment yet, one of the longest and most impassioned responses from Woods, who for so many years preferred his thugs to get the message across.
What the PGA Tour wouldn’t give to have Woods in full swing and playing a busy schedule right in the middle one of the most disturbing moments in golf.
The British Open is only the third tournament Woods has played in his year – four, including the two-day Charity Pro-Am in Ireland last week – and will likely be his last until he heads to the Bahamas for a holiday later in the year Event he moderates.
While Norman was laying the groundwork last fall and figuring out how to spend all that money from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, Woods was out of the public eye from February through late November to recover from his car crash outside of Los Angeles.
He spoke for the first time in the Bahamas and said his allegiance is to the PGA Tour and “that’s where my legacy is.”
And then it was another four months before Woods played at the Masters again. And then six weeks to the PGA Championship in Southern Hills, where he distanced himself from Phil Mickelson—nothing new—when it came to LIV golf.
Woods is now back in public two months later. His words get stronger.
Tiger Woods says LIV players have turned their backs on PGA
Tiger Woods has offered his harshest criticism yet of the golfers who gave up the PGA status quo for the LIV Tour. While Colin Cowherd is usually a huge Tiger supporter, he explains why Tiger can be a bit hypocritical.
His most astute comments concerned players who seemed to have careers ahead of them, who hadn’t even made it onto the PGA Tour, and who chose to take the money they otherwise would have had to earn through performance.
Woods spoke to him Induction into the Hall of Fame in March when his parents took out a second mortgage on their house to fund his youth development. And when he turned pro and signed big endorsement deals with Nike and Titleist, the priority was to cash it out.
That was his way.
As he spoke on Tuesday, the Official World Golf Ranking Board was holding its annual meeting in St Andrews. Whether LIV Golf will get world ranking points is still open. Even if there’s a one-year wait, most – if not all – players won’t be in the top 50 by then. That makes it a long way back, especially when the majors — who seem to like LIV Golf as much as Woods — change their criteria.
“It’s a possibility that some players will never get a chance to play in a major championship, never get a chance to experience this, to walk down the fairways at Augusta National,” Woods said. “That for me, I just don’t get it.”
LIV Golf still has no one in the top 15 in the world rankings, although it does have some big, well-known champions – Mickelson, a head recruiter for Norman; Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Bryson DeChambeau.
Not long ago, DeChambeau couldn’t spend enough time with Woods on the golf course (they played golf balls of the same brand). Whatever influence Woods has, DeChambeau only sees him a few times a year. So much can Woods play on a right leg, which he has described as full of hardware surgeries.
A famous story over the years was how Mickelson would joke with a room full of players, and Mickelson would end any debate by asking, “How many Majors have you won?” But first he would look over his shoulder to make sure Woods wasn’t in the room.
Woods still owns the stage in the Gulf. He always has. He just doesn’t get out that much.
Norman is not in St Andrews to meet the British Open champions. It’s not clear if he ever planned to take part, having skipped the last two times it’s been held in golf’s homeland. The R&A thought it would distract amid the 150th edition celebrations and asked him not to come this year.
Woods thought it was the right call.
“Greg has done some things that I don’t think are in the best interest of our game,” he said.
He later referenced Norman attempting to start a World Golf Tour in the early 1990s but it was cancelled. The strongest dissenting voice at the time came from Arnold Palmer. The King was 20 years after his last win on the PGA Tour, but is still an enduring presence in golf.
Woods’ tour could use that.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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