Tour Confidential: Tiger and Charlie, Tiger’s year and a LIV resignation
Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors as they break down the hottest topics in the sport, and join the conversation by tweeting us @golf_com. This week, we break down Tiger Woods’ year, the Tiger and Charlie dynamic, a LIV Golf resignation and more.
1. Our James Colgan, on site for this week’s PNC Championship, wrote about Tiger Woods’ eventful year despite the 15-time major champ playing just three official events. Woods, along with Rory McIlroy, was the PGA Tour’s most loyal and vocal backer in the year LIV Golf was born. With less and less golf in front of him, how important do you think Woods’ 2022 will be to his legacy?
Josh Berhow, managing editor (@Josh_Berhow): Not as significant as becoming the first Black player to win the Masters, or winning the Tiger Slam, or winning the U.S. Open on a broken leg, but the words Tiger uses matter, and as he ages, they’ll start to matter a lot more than his play, which will be less significant as those days wind down. A lot of it depends on what happens with LIV Golf. If it doesn’t last, how much credit will guys like Tiger and Rory receive? If it does, will people remember what they said? Rory was one of the first guys to say he wanted to be on the right side of history, and Tiger’s actions and words have proven he agrees with that. It’s too early to tell, but this year is another important chapter in Woods’ career, and for different reasons than what we’ve seen before.
Dylan Dethier, senior writer (@dylan_dethier): Woods has pointed out that the PGA Tour is where he’s made his legacy. In other words, that legacy would be diminished if the PGA Tour was to be diminished. Woods’ 2022 was defined by his decision to speak out in support of the Tour, and his hand in architecting its future. It was also defined by his appearances at the majors: His improbable appearance at the Masters; his rally to make the cut at the PGA; and his memorable walk up No. 18 at the Old Course when he played the Open. He’s never had a year quite like this one — it will define what comes next.
Sean Zak, senior editor (@Sean_Zak): 2022 for Woods felt like one of those moments in the movies where the main character decides, “this is the first step in the rest of my life.” It was the first year where he really, truly had to grow comfortable with doing less and making it count more. That stands for him still trying to contend despite fewer opportunities as well as saying more with fewer speaking opportunities. His voice has never been more important to the PGA Tour, and Woods recognized that. He spoke up. If he didn’t, we’d be singing a different tune about the battle with LIV Golf. At the end of his career, 2022 could be nothing more than the start of a new chapter, but this chapter might be the most revealing.
2. Vijay Singh and his son, Qass, won the PNC Championship, but, as in previous years, Tiger Woods and Charlie Woods stole the show and the headlines. Did this week reveal anything new to you about the Tiger/Charlie dynamic?
Berhow: Charlie, whether it’s intended or not, has many of his dad’s mannerisms, including playing through some injuries. It’s fun to watch them together. This tournament was already a fun one-off on the pro golf schedule, but Tiger and Charlie entering it have really elevated it the past three years. There’s also a really fun dynamic there when they play with the Thomases. Was good to see another Tour star get in on the action with Jordan Spieth joining this year as well.
Dethier: This is the first time we’ve heard Charlie talk about Tiger. And while Charlie knows in theory how good his father was in his prime, this week he saw something different — and better. “Yesterday — that’s the best he’s played in a while,” Charlie said after the second round. So to answer the question, I learned that Charlie’s still learning about his dad. That’s cool.
Zak: This week was a reminder of what seems like a real two-way friendship between father and son. Tiger gets so much joy out of competing with Charlie, and Charlie gets so many lessons from perhaps the best golf teacher in the world. Son pushes Dad’s buttons. Dad reminds Son when he’s going too far. We’ve all been there.
3. The Thomases led after the first day, with Team Woods and Team Singh tied for second. Yet despite the Singhs finishing their round first on Saturday, it was Tiger and Charlie who were in the final grouping on Sunday with Justin and Mike Thomas. Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard reported: “As one tournament official explained, with a knowing smile, the pairings were adjusted by a ‘committee’ decision.” Any issue with this?
Berhow: Hmm, a slightly odd move, but I’m not offended and I don’t think anyone else should be. Yes, they are playing for some money, but this is a fun, laid-back event. Slightly tweaking the final-round pairings to get Tiger and Charlie and the Thomases together makes sense to appease one person they desperately want to keep coming back (Mr. Woods), and it makes for a better made-for-TV grouping, especially considering how well those four gel together. It’s also worth noting this wasn’t an egregious tee times tweak, with Tiger and Charlie three or four back, for example. They had the same score. Oh well.
Dethier: Nah. I consulted with a committee of my own and determined that if the tournament you’re arguing about is a scramble that includes 13-year-olds, you can basically make up any rules you want.
Zak: LOL, no. And anyone who has an issue can kick rocks. First, this should be the rule, anyway, for pro golf played on TV. And second, this event should be kept as casual as possible. If reworking the pairings in — and this should be noted — the slightest fashion is possible, do it.
4. The PNC Championship was the last time we’ll see the elder Woods compete in 2022, and we’re not yet sure when we’ll see him next in 2023. He said his goal for this past year was to play in just the Open Championship, but he ended up playing an additional two majors. When do you guess we’ll see Tiger next, and what do you think 2023 has in store for him? (And there’s no chance he can win another major, like Padraig Harrington just predicted, is there?)
Berhow: I’m guessing Tiger decides to be just a host at the Genesis Invitational and doesn’t play, but I bet we see him at the Players Championship the next month. And I think this year was very much a blueprint of what we’ll see from Tiger going forward: the majors if he can, a PNC Championship with Charlie, and maybe a random start here or there. I don’t expect him to win another major — sorry, Paddy! — but if it’s going to happen anywhere, it will be Augusta, and crazier things have happened.
Dethier: Man, I dunno. He’s hitting the crap out of the ball — Justin Thomas was one of the longer hitters on the PGA Tour last year and said Woods is currently longer than he is. Walking just seems like a massive issue right now. Walking 72 holes of stroke play is a taxing endeavor, so Woods contending in 2023 seems like a long shot. But I’ve sworn off swearing off Tiger Woods.
Zak: Woods already looked a lot better this weekend than last weekend. I’d guess he gets daily treatment for his plantar fasciitis throughout January and gives it a go at Riviera for the Genesis. The course is hilly on the 1st and hilly on the 18th. Everywhere in between should be somewhat comfortable for him by then.
5. LIV Golf’s President and COO, Atul Khosla, resigned from his role as the breakaway league prepares for its first full season. Is this a sign that things aren’t progressing as quickly as LIV’s brass would like, or not much of anything?
Berhow: It’s hard to say. LIV had ambitious goals for Year 1, but given all the hurdles they faced over the past year, I’m not sure it would have ever been easy to create a realistic set of goals in the first place. The first year of anything is hard to predict.
Dethier: Two things are true: No. 1, there’s turbulence in the ranks. This is a bad sign for LIV; Khosla was a legitimizing force on the organization’s business side. And yes, despite their early success, they’re still projecting behind where they’d like to be. But No. 2 is that we should be wary of writing off LIV. As long as a few very powerful decision-makers remain determined for it to succeed, it’s not going to suddenly vanish. It’ll also be interesting to hear more about why he stepped aside — if we ever get the chance.
Zak: Let me lead with a timeline. On Oct. 29th, Atul Khosla walked media members through LIV Golf’s future business plan. On Oct. 30th, I asked him a simple question: “Can you sell this thing?”
“Absolutely,” he said. “[I] had to show the world what it was all about.”
He was awfully confident that weekend, but then left his post in a matter of weeks? To me, that is alarming. I’ll just leave it at that.