What Tiger Woods’ LIV criticism revealed about his growth as a sports icon

Tiger Woods didn't mince his words on LIV Golf at the Open Championship at St. Andrews.

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In his 30-plus years as a broadcaster, Mike Tirico has been privileged to witness the achievements of many of the world’s best athletes, including the entirety of Tiger Woods’ storied career, which has given him a unique insider’s perspective on Woods’ significant contributions to the game.

On this week’s episode of Subpar, Tirico told hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz why he thought Woods’ pointed comments at the Open Championship at St. Andrews on the dangers of defecting to LIV Golf represented a seminal moment for the 15-time major champ.

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“I thought what he said about the PGA Tour and the LIV Tour, and the differences between the two, the dude for a quarter-century has been the face of the PGA Tour,” Tirico began. “He has put money in more people’s pockets — including all the guys on the LIV Tour. All the guys on the LIV tour, the PGA Tour make a boatload more money because of Tiger Woods, period. You cannot argue that statement.

“All of us in TV, the importance of golf, all of that, is because of one guy,” he continued. “And he’s been the face of it for 25 years, since ‘Hello, world,’ in Milwaukee. And for the first time, he really stepped up to be the voice in golf, putting pressure on the major championships, just laying it out there for those guys. ‘Hey, you know what, you may never experience what we’re experiencing now if you go there and you can’t get in majors.’ It was cool to see. I’m glad that he took that moment to play a card that he’s never played before.”

Stoltz then mentioned that Woods’ comments on LIV were particularly interesting because Woods has rarely chosen to voice an opinion on controversial topics over the course of his career.

Tirico agreed, and compared Woods to Michael Jordan, who was also famously neutral in public when it came to potentially contentious issues during his NBA heydey.

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“Sometimes when you say nothing, and you don’t want to share what you think, the one or two times that you do, it’s 20 times more powerful than the person who’s always screaming at the top of their lungs,” Tirico said. “And that’s what this was with Tiger. Finally Tiger saying, once and for all, ‘I’m gonna speak up, and this is what I think, and since I don’t do it all the time, you should probably stop and pay attention.'”

For more from Tirico, including what it was like watching Woods walk up the 18th at St. Andrews this year, and why LIV Golf may actually end up being good for the PGA Tour, check out the full interview below.

Jessica Marksbury
Golf.com

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.