Tiger Woods’ new golf league just announced players, TV rights, and more
Get used to team golf folks, because it’s not going away anytime soon. In fact, it’s really only accelerating, as Tiger Woods’ forthcoming golf league, TGL, has made a bunch of announcements this week.
For starters, more players. TGL announced four new names to the fold on Thursday: Tommy Fleetwood, Tom Kim, Tyrrell Hatton and Shane Lowry, boosting its total of 2023 Ryder Cuppers from nine to 12. That means 16 out of 18 spots in the league’s first season are taken, leaving just two empty spots to be claimed.
Thus far, the 16 players are as follows:
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Billy Horschel, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa, Matt Fitzpatrick, Adam Scott, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Tom Kim, Shane Lowry
But new names and faces are only the most recent update the league provided Thursday. They came on the heels of a TV rights agreement with ESPN, which has announced a multi-year partnership for TGL rights in the United States. As part of the announcement, TGL is set to kick off its inaugural season on Tuesday, Jan. 9, the day after the college football national championship. The first match will be broadcast on ESPN in primetime that evening, and also simulcast on ESPN+.
Many advancements in the PGA Tour schedule over the last five years have been made to avoid competing with football, the No. 1 sport in America. And while the TGL has no interest in changing that, it does have interest in using football to help prop up its launch. Using the college football playoff as a launching point in the beginning of a new calendar year should help drum up plenty of interest in the upstart league.
Plenty remains to be seen — like if Woods will be healthy enough to be involved, or if separate rights deals will be made for coverage outside the U.S. — but at its start the league will at least be football adjacent. The second match will also be in primetime, one week later on Jan. 16, the night after ESPN’s wild card NFL playoff game.
As for what the golf will look like when fans tune in in January, we can expect 3v3 matches that should be finished in just two hours. There will be 15 matches played throughout 2024 — assumedly a round-robin schedule where each team competes against one another once — and then semi-finals and finals matches.
All matches will be played in a newly announced SoFi Center — a still-under-construction arena named after the league’s founding sponsor that will house nearly 2,000 fans on match nights. Laying out in front of them — on the campus of Palm Beach State College in Palm Beach, Fla. — will be a football-field-sized playing ground, with a 64’x46’ simulator screen. Players will play full-swing shots into the screen for woods and most irons, then will play direct-reality shots into a short game area roughly the size of a basketball court. Players will also be mic’d up.
So, what comes next? The league is just three months away from starting, but there’s a reason only virtual renderings have been shared to date. Its site is still very much under construction. The final two players, final two ownership groups and a full schedule of matches are expected within the next two months. ABC will air a league preview show on December 30 — oddly enough, Tiger Woods’ 48th birthday.