Pat Perez, whose tour, LIV Golf, was ripped by Tiger Woods earlier this year, blasted the 15-time major champion this week in response, saying “that’s one of the stupidest things I think he has said.”
Perez, one of golf’s more outspoken pros, offered several thoughts this week on the Son of a Butch podcast, hosted by Claude Harmon III, Perez’s swing coach, though most centered on LIV, the sixth-month-old Saudi-backed series. And one comment came in response to a Woods critique in late July at the Open Championship. There, Woods was asked what he thought of players being “tempted” to play for LIV, and he gave about a 450-word response.
As part of it, Woods questioned players’ incentive should they join LIV, which, unlike the established PGA Tour, offers its players guaranteed money, regardless of finish.
“But what these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practice?” Woods said. “What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt? You’re just getting paid a lot of money up front and playing a few events and playing 54 holes. They’re playing blaring music and have all these atmospheres that are different.”
Perez, who played over 20 seasons on the PGA Tour before joining LIV in June, strongly disagreed with Woods. For clarity, here is the complete exchange:
“The money aspect of it, for me, it’s so interesting to watch people talk about that, fixate on that, but the football stadiums in the NFL are filled,” Harmon started. “Baseball stadiums, people go watch. Basketball, people go watch. They’re now paying college athletes. The colleges in America, you know, the money that Alabama brings in for amateur football, not even professional football. And nobody has any problem with any of that. And then obviously Tiger Woods coming out and talking about where is the incentive to practice and play with guaranteed money … “
“That’s the stupidest s**t I have ever heard of in my life,” Perez said. “That’s one of the stupidest things I think he has said. The incentive is the fact that last place is 120,000, first place is four million. You cannot win four million on the PGA Tour. Now, next year you might; they finally got the perks. But last time I checked, he signed a $40 million deal right out of college, was flying on the Nike jet. He found incentive. He could have shut it down right then.
“He did pretty good with all the guarantees up front,” Harmon said.
“He had a lot of guarantees. You know what, and he was the hottest thing. He’s made so much money off the course, he found incentive to go. But again, he only played how many tournaments. He didn’t go — I never saw him at John Deere, never saw him supporting all these events. He played in the majors, he played in the WGCs and that was it. He played Torrey. Never played Riv. But he’s worth every dime. In fact, like I said, he’s two billion short of where he should be, I think.”
On a look at Woods’ record, he’s played at Riviera Country Club 13 times, and he now hosts an event, the Genesis Invitational, there. He’s played the John Deere Classic once, in 1996. The event was then known as the Quad City Classic, and it was Woods’ third event as a pro.
After a thought on whether Rory McIlroy, with 23 Tour victories, could pass Phil Mickelson, with 45 — “No, I don’t see it; he’s going to catch him in majors; I mean, Rory should have 15 majors by now; that’s how phenomenal he is” — Perez continued with his incentive opinion.
“The incentive, the incentive, the fact that you can go from like 22nd place or 18th place, have a great Sunday, go from making 220 grand to four million, you cannot do that anywhere,” Perez said. “That’s the incentive. I mean, you were out there, you’ve seen people, guys are grinding as hard as they ever have in their lifetime. Because not even that — you can go from making 160 grand to like one million. It’s very hard to do on the PGA Tour.”
Later in the podcast, the talk turned to Dustin Johnson, another Harmon-coached player who left the Tour for LIV. Johnson won one tournament (earning $4 million), along with the series’ eight-tournament-long points title (earning an $18 million bonus), and his four-man team, which included Perez, won the team crown (earning each player $4 million).
“He is unbelievable in his routines, the way he does things every day,” Perez said. “And his focus. He does his workouts, he hits his wedges for 45 minutes, and then he gets in and it’s an all-day affair for him. And here’s a guy that signed for a ton of cash up front, and he made a ton on the course, wins the individual, and still grinds like he’s trying to get his Tour card for the first time.
“You go back to what’s the incentive, the incentive is that you can make — DJ made 18 million on the individual, another 17 on the course. He did that in eight weeks. There’s plenty of incentive there. You can say it’s not about the money, the money dah, dah, dah, dah, it is there. It’s there.”
Editor’s note: You can listen to the entire podcast here.