LIV Golf, the breakaway golf tour backed by Saudi Arabia attempting to position itself as a major competitor to the PGA Tour, apparently tried to convince the biggest name in golf to join the fold.
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman told Kent Babb of the Washington Post (h/t Joel Beall of Golf Digest) that Woods was offered a deal that was “mind-blowingly enormous; we’re talking about high nine digits.”Woods previously told reporters he is committed to the PGA Tour:
“You know, [Phil Mickelson] has his opinion on where he sees the game of golf going. I have my viewpoint on how I see the game of golf, and I’ve supported the tour and my foundation has run events on the tour for a number of years. I just think that what Jack [Nicklaus] and Arnold [Palmer] have done in starting the tour and breaking away from the PGA of America and creating our tour in ’68 or ’69, somewhere in there, I just think there’s a legacy to that.
“I’ve been playing out here for a couple of years over decades, and I think there’s a legacy to it. I still think that the tour has so much to offer, so much opportunity. … I understand different viewpoints, but I believe in legacies; I believe in major championships; I believe in big events, comparisons to historical figures of the past. There’s plenty of money out here. The tour is growing. But it’s just like any other sport. It’s like tennis. You have to go out there and earn it. You’ve got to go out there and play for it. We have opportunity to go ahead and do it. It’s just not guaranteed up front.”
Beall noted PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said players will be suspended or perhaps even banned if they joined LIV Golf. The PGA Tour also denied releases for players to participate in the rival league’s inaugural event in London, which starts Thursday and conflicts with the RBC Canadian Open.Woods wasn’t the only member of proverbial golf royalty approached by the Saudi-backed league.
Jack Nicklaus, who holds the record for major championships at 18 and hosts the Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour’s schedule, told Michael Bamberger of the Fire Pit Collective he was “offered something in excess of $100 million by the Saudis, to do the job probably similar to the one that Greg [Norman] is doing.”
He also said, “I’ve got zero interest in wanting to do something like that. I don’t care what kind of money they would have thrown at me. My allegiance has been to the PGA Tour. I grew up on the PGA Tour. I helped found the PGA Tour as it is today. My allegiance is there and it’s going to stay there.”Norman told Babb that Nicklaus is a “hypocrite” who previously suggested that LIV Golf would be “good for our game.”
Norman also said Rory McIlroy is someone who has been “brainwashed” by the PGA Tour “monopolists” after the four-time major champion told reporters the LIV Golf field is nothing to “jump up and down about.”
That field will include Phil Mickelson, who announced he signed with the rival league even though he still intends to play in majors:Brentley Romine of Golf Channel reported Lefty’s contract is worth approximately $200 million, making him part of a group that includes Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Kevin Na and Sergio Garcia and may compete in London.There are some notable names, but the massive money wasn’t enough to convince Woods.