Tiger Woods gives 35-word statement, in first PGA Tour-LIV comments since deal
Tiger Woods said on Sunday that he had never seen a document that shows he was asked to rally support for the PGA Tour in its fight against LIV Golf, his first public comment about the saga since the bombshell Tour-LIV deal was announced a month ago.
At 7:11 p.m. ET, Woods’ Twitter account posted this 35-word statement:
“In response to the talking points memo released this weekend, I have never seen this document until today, and I did not attend the players meeting for which it was prepared at the 2022 Travelers.”
The tweet is presumably referring to documents that are part of an antitrust suit brought against the PGA Tour by attorney Larry Klayman after the Tour banned players who had joined LIV. The 357 pages of the suit were first obtained by Twitter account @desertdufferLLG and were examined by Sports Illustrated reporters via the 15th Judicial Circuit Court in Palm Beach County, Florida.
The documents claim that Woods was given “potential talking points” ahead of a Tour players meeting at last June’s Travelers Championship. At that point, LIV had played one event; subsequently, the Tour made multiple moves to persuade players to remain with it, rather than take large, guaranteed money from the upstart series.
At the Travelers meeting, according to the lawsuit, Woods was to speak after Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, and he was asked to say the following:
— “Guys, let me start by saying, I think Jay, our captain in this scenario, is working his ass off.”
— “I know it’s easy to just motor along and play your schedule and do your thing, but you should know, LIV Golf is trying to take down the PGA Tour and take over golf.”
— “Guys, make no mistake, if this is an arms’ race — and if the weapons here are dollar bills — the PGA Tour can’t compete.”
— “But if we refuse to go anywhere, no matter how much dirty money they throw our way, that’s our silver bullet.”
— “Unfortunately, 20 of our former members have given them a head start. They’ve chosen a shit ton of money over this Tour, everything it’s given them and everything it stands for.”
— “So when you ask, what can I do, I have two ideas. First, do what I did: Tell the Saudis to go fuck themselves. And mean it. Second, tell the world, over and over, any chance you get, that you are sticking with the Tour because you are part of something bigger than yourself. That you are the PGA Tour, and the PGA Tour is you. That it’s damn good, and it’s worth fighting for.”
On June 6, just under a year after that Travelers Championship, the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund — which bankrolls LIV — announced that they had come to an agreement. They will operate a new, for-profit enterprise and end pending litigation among the sides, with a path back for LIV players. Notably, the deal was reportedly negotiated by just four people — Monahan, PGA Tour policy board members Ed Hirlihy and Jimmy Dunne, and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the PIF governor.
Since the deal was announced, Woods had been mum on anything associated with the Tour or LIV. But he had spoken out against LIV previously, most memorably at last July’s Open Championship.
“As far as … the players who have chosen to go to LIV and to play there, I disagree with it,” Woods said then. “I think that what they’ve done is they’ve turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position.
“I just don’t see how that move is positive in the long term for a lot of these players, especially if the LIV organization doesn’t get world-ranking points and the major championships change their criteria for entering the events,” he continued. “It would be sad to see some of these young kids never get a chance to experience it and experience what we’ve got a chance to experience and walk these hallowed grounds and play in these championships.”
Woods has been absent from golf for much of this year — he underwent a foot procedure in April and has not played since the Masters.