ST. ANDREWS, Scotland. Tiger Woods, visibly enamored with his incredible return to the sport’s oldest circuit, took a firm stand on Tuesday against players past and present who have joined the rebellion. Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf series.
He chided Greg Norman, a major champion turned LIV chief executive, for engaging in activities that are not “in the interest of our game” and backed his de facto expulsion from this year’s UK Open in St. Louis. Andrews. He said that young players who left the PGA Tour “turned away from what allowed them to take this position.” And he questioned the LIV model — 54-hole no-cut tournaments for guaranteed money-makers — that would allow golf and its best players to thrive.
“I can understand that 54 holes is almost like a mandate when you get on the Senior Tour – the guys are a little older and a little more jaded – but when you are at such a young age and some of these kids – they really are kids who have come over from amateur golf to this organization – the 72-hole tests are part of it,” Woods, 46, said at a press conference two days before the scheduled start of the Open on the coast of Scotland.
“I just don’t see how this move will be positive in the long run for many of these players, especially if the LIV organization doesn’t get world ranking points and major championships change their criteria for participating in tournaments,” he added.
Woods avoided explicitly condemning current players who joined the LIV in exchange for staggering sums, including Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Kepka, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed, as well as a host of lesser-known golfers.
But he pointedly questioned Norman, who is so divisive about golf that the Open Championship organizer R&A admitted over the weekend that he did not invite him to dinner on Tuesday for past Open champions.
“I know Greg was trying to do this back in the early 90s,” Woods said of Norman’s ambition to challenge the long-established order of golf. “It didn’t work then, and he’s trying to make it work now. I still don’t understand how this is in the interests of the game.”
Woods also welcomed the expulsion of Norman R&A, who had previously called the decision “petty”.
“Greg has done some things that I don’t think are in the best interests of our game and we’re going back to probably the most historic and traditional place in our sport,” Woods said. “I think it’s right.”
The Woods v. LIV case came as he prepared for what he admitted Tuesday could very well be his last Open at his favorite field.
“I will never play full time again,” said Woods, who underwent aggressive rehabilitation after a car accident in February 2021 that made doctors consider amputating his leg. “My body just won’t let me do it. I don’t know how many open championships I have left here in St. Petersburg. Andrews, but I wanted this one. For me it started here in ’95, and if it ends here in ’22, it will. If it’s not, it’s not. If I get a chance to play again it would be great, but there is no guarantee.”