Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy as LIV Golf captains? Apparently it was pitched by the PIF
Imagine a world where Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy owned and played for LIV Golf teams.
Pretty tough thing to do, but it’s exactly a pitch that was made to PGA Tour board members. It came during the negotiations that led to the bombshell framework agreement to merge the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund’s commercial golf operations into a new company.
The proposal was revealed in documents released by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations committee ahead of a scheduled hearing on the proposed deal Tuesday. On April 26, a private equity firm, PCP Capital Partners, sent PGA Tour board members Jimmy Dunne and Ed Herlihy a presentation called “The Best of Both Worlds,” which contained several proposals of what a long-term agreement could look like.
The first of which was for Woods and McIlroy, two of LIV Golf’s staunchest opponents before the announcement of the framework agreement, to own LIV teams and play at least 10 events a year.
PCP Capital Partners has been involved in other deals involving the PIF, including the high-profile purchase of the English football club Newcastle United, in which it holds a 10 percent stake.
The emailed presentation came a few days after a meeting in London with, among others, Dunne, Herlihy, and representatives from the PIF, according to the documents. The other proposals included “a LIV Golf style team global event with qualifying events held in Saudi Arabia and a final week in Dubai,” “a global golf investment fund managed by PIF” and “a minimum of two PGA high-profile events to be sponsored by Aramco and/or PIF, with one of these events held in Saudi Arabia.”
A source familiar with the negotiations told GOLF.com these proposals didn’t make it very far.
“It’s important to understand that documents released as part of the senate hearing included proposals that PIF/LIV or their representatives made to the PGA Tour, which were quickly rejected and never put into the Framework Agreement,” the source said.
None of these proposals were discussed at Tuesday’s Senate hearing.
It’s unclear if Woods or McIlroy were ever aware of the proposals.
McIlroy, a PGA Tour Policy member who — like Dunne and Herlihy — will have a vote on the agreement when it is finalized, became a defacto PGA Tour spokesman in its war against LIV Golf over the last year. Even when the announcement of the framework agreement was made, he still condemned the rival tour, claiming “I still hate LIV.”
“I hope it goes away. And I would fully expect that it does,” McIlroy said at the RBC Canadian Open five weeks ago, the day after the deal was announced. “All I’ve tried to do is protect what the PGA Tour is and what the PGA Tour stands for. And I think it will continue to do that.
“So, look, going forward I hope that there’s, you know, there may be a team element and you’re going to see, maybe me, maybe whoever else play in some sort of team golf. But I don’t think it will look anything like LIV has looked and I think that’s a good thing.”
Woods has been quiet on the issue as he recovers from ankle surgery that has sidelined him since the Masters in April. The only statement the 15-time major champion has made since the announcement in June was last week when he denied any knowledge of a document in a lawsuit outlining potential talking points for him against LIV.
However, last July at the Open Championship, he made it clear his opinions on LIV Golf’s model, which pays players guaranteed money through signing bonuses, in addition to playing 54-hole, no-cut events.
“I just don’t see how, out of 54 holes — I can understand 54 holes is almost like a mandate when you get to the Senior Tour,” Woods said at St. Andrews. “The guys are a little bit older and a little more banged up. But when you’re at this young age and some of these kids — they really are kids who have gone from amateur golf into that organization — 72-hole tests are part of it. We used to have 36-hole playoffs for major championships. That’s how it used to be — 18-hole U.S. Open playoffs.”
He continued: “What these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practice? What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt? You’re just getting paid a lot of money upfront and playing a few events and playing 54 holes. They’re playing blaring music and have all these atmospheres that are different.”