Tiger Woods opens up on PGA Tour negotiations, expresses frustration with process of Saudi PIF agreement

Tiger Woods was surprisingly candid about his role as a player director on the PGA Tour policy board as he spoke to media in the Bahamas on Tuesday ahead of his return at this week’s Hero World Challenge. Woods joined the board in August alongside other players including Patrick Cantlay, Peter Malnati, Webb Simpson, Charley Hoffman and Rory McIlroy (who has since been replaced by Jordan Spieth), all of whom have been attempting to steer the Tour during its current negotiation with various entities that are attempting to invest.

Woods was clearly perturbed by the Tour’s secrecy in June when commissioner Jay Monahan and non-player board members Ed Herlihy and Jimmy Dunne reached a framework agreement with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia — LIV Golf’s financial backer — to cease litigation and potentially negotiate a merger in the future. The trio did so with no player involvement, even from Woods and McIlroy, both of whom had been close to the situation throughout.

“I think the overall emotion [behind why I joined the policy board] is … we can’t let that happen again,” said Woods. “How do we do that, is having six player directors so we control the board and we control what we’re going to do. We’re not going to have what transpired in a few months without our involvement again.”

There was a sense on Tuesday that Woods wanted to reclaim ownership in the Tour for the players who make it up. Despite that, Tiger still has faith in commissioner Monahan, which is part of the reason he decided to join the policy board.

“I think Jay has been a part of the direction, he understands what happened prior to that can’t happen again and won’t happen again, not with the players that are involved and not with the player directors having the role that we have,” Woods said.

While Woods has enjoyed the control players have regained — it is a membership organization, after all — he did say that, like most bureaucracies, things are moving more slowly than he would prefer, especially given the Dec. 31 deadline put in place by the Tour and PIF for a deal to be solidified is rapidly approaching. 

“I’m pleased at the process and how it’s evolved,” said Woods. “Also frustrated in some of the slowness and the governance change that we want to have happen. And Dec. 31 is coming up very quickly, so there’s the timetable there that we would like to implement some of these changes that have not taken place. The guys, all the player directors have spent so many hours and worked tireless hours to make sure that we have the best deal for all the players that are involved, the entire PGA Tour.”

Tiger also shed light on the Tour’s current negotiations, which include not only the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia but also other private equity firms, including Fenway Sports Group, which also owns a team in TGL, the screen golf league Woods and McIlroy started, which was recently delayed.

“We have multiple options, but still, we would like to have a deal done Dec. 31,” he said. “That’s what the agreement said in the summer and all parties understand that. But there are other options out there.”

“I am confident a deal will get done in some way,” he added. “Whether that comes Dec. 31 or is pushed back, we’re all — all sides understand we’re working together. There are no lawsuits. Everyone’s understanding what that looks like and we’re all progressing going forward. Everyone’s working right now with no animosity. We’re trying to work to try and get a deal done for the Tour and for all parties involved.”

There are other options in terms of investment, but there are also multiple ways the golf part of the deal could play out given the PIF’s funding of and involvement in LIV.

The way Woods spoke about it could lead one to believe that LIV and the PGA Tour are going to coexist in some way. This has obviously never been off the table, but given Woods’ (and others’) disdain for LIV, it was a bit surprising that it seemingly remains very much an option.

“As far as team golf, I think there is away in which we can all benefit from team golf, it’s just how do we do it. We’re just trying to figure out that process now. We have been, we’ve been doing it for months, trying to figure out how that all works, what does that landscape even look like and where do we play and what impact does it have on our PGA Tour schedule. I think that’s something that we have focused on and we don’t take lightly.”


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