‘Greg has to go’: Tiger Woods says LIV needs leadership change
One question seems to be on the mind of everyone in pro golf these days: Can the PGA Tour and LIV Golf meet in the middle, wherever that “middle” is, and hash out their differences to coexist? The main issue with the question is that it keeps getting asked and not a single figurehead atop the game has been able to answer it with much detail — from Jay Monahan to Greg Norman to Rory McIlroy, and now finally Tiger Woods.
Woods spoke with reporters Tuesday down at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, an event he hosts but will not be playing in this week due to his developing plantar fasciitis in his right foot. When prompted with the idea of opportunity for coexistence, Woods refused to hypothesize what that would look like. Instead, Woods pointed the finger straight at LIV’s leadership.
“Greg has to go, first of all,” Woods said. “Then obviously litigation against us and then our countersuit against them, those would then have to be at a stay as well. So then we can talk, we can all talk freely.”
Woods is reiterating a point that Rory McIlroy made at the DP World Tour Championship two weeks ago — that Norman as the CEO of LIV Golf has been too chaotic a figure for the sides to meet. Woods was asked multiple times Tuesday about co-existence and on five different occasions he used the word “animosity” to describe LIV’s entrance into the ecosystem, with at least one of those pointed directly at Norman himself.
Do you think these organizations can co-exist?, Woods was asked.
“Right now as it is, not right now, not with their leadership, not with Greg there and his animosity towards the Tour itself,” Woods said. “I don’t see that happening. As Rory said and I said it as well, I think Greg’s got to leave and then we can eventually, hopefully, have a stay between the two lawsuits and figure something out.”
While that may simply be an opinion of McIlroy’s and Woods’, it has been a discussion point following the conclusion of LIV’s first season of events. James Corrigan of the Telegraph reported that Norman would be “moved upstairs” from the forward facing role as LIV replaces him at CEO. LIV promptly denied the report.
And though McIlroy and Woods hold a shared opinion about what must come first, it may not be as realistic as they make it seem. In fact, for both sides to “meet in the middle” it would take a good bit of budging on the behalf of the PGA Tour. During a virtual press conference in October, Norman said that he extended the offer of a meeting to Tour commissioner Jay Monahan this summer but it went unanswered.
What Woods did get right about the LIV vs. PGA Tour battle is that it involves multiple lawsuits. “Why would you change anything if you’ve got a lawsuit against you? They sued us first,” Woods said. Right again. A number of LIV Golfers filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour on August 3, and while many of them have dropped out of the suit, LIV Golf itself joined the suit, which is focused on the PGA Tour’s regulations and whether or not they’re anticompetitive in the marketplace of pro golf.
Less than two months later, the PGA Tour countersued LIV Golf claiming damages of its own from the initial suit and LIV’s entrance into the pro golf ecosystem. Woods doesn’t have a long history of being involved in lawsuits, but he makes good sense when he says that the sides would require a “stay” of the lawsuits. It would not be in either side’s best interest to try and meet in the middle while an anticompetitive suit is taking place.
So, for those desperate to understand that path forward, could a stay of the lawsuits happen? It’s totally plausible. Lawyers from both sides have been working together for months now to determine various court schedules and discovery requests. Leadership of the DP World Tour and the R&A have been pulled into the fold. So, too, has Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the majority backer of all things LIV Golf. It has gotten hasty in the court room, as expected, and in the press conference room as well.
The parting of the sides is only expected to sustain in the near future as LIV Golf is expected to announce its schedule sometime this week.