The Open: Tiger Woods emphatically rejects LIV Golf

Tiger Woods Liv Golf

Tiger Woods has spent his entire career swatting away questions containing even the slightest whiff of controversy.

Today at St Andrews, and now firmly in the twilight of his career, the 15-time major champion dramatically changed gear to issue an impassioned and unambiguous rejection of LIV Golf.

Woods, 47, spoke candidly and at length about the Saudi-funded enterprise. He endorsed the R&A’s decision not to invite LIV CEO Greg Norman to St Andrews. He reiterated his gratitude to the PGA Tour for providing him with a platform to perform. Most significantly, he questioned the decision-making of younger players who have been lured away from the game’s more established tours by the promise of guaranteed millions.

“I disagree with it," said Woods. “I think that what they've done is they've turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position.

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“Some players have never got a chance to even experience it. They've gone right from the amateur ranks right into that organisation and never really got a chance to play out here and what it feels like to play a Tour schedule or to play in some big events.”

A meeting to discuss LIV Golf’s application to join the Official World Golf Ranking is reportedly taking place here in St Andrews this week. It remains very much in the balance as to whether or not it will be successful. If not, that could very well spell the end of any ambitions LIV golfers have of ever again playing in the game’s four major championships.

"That is a possibility,” added Tiger. “We don't know that for sure yet. It's up to all the major championship bodies to make that determination. But that is a possibility, that some players will never, ever get a chance to play in a major championship, never get a chance to experience this right here, or walk down the fairways at Augusta National.

“That, to me... I just don't understand it. I understand what Jack [Nicklaus] and Arnold [Palmer] did because playing professional golf at a tour level versus a club pro is different, and I understand that transition and that move and the recognition that a touring pro versus a club pro is.

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“But what these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practise? What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt? You're just getting paid a lot of money up front and playing a few events and playing 54 holes. They're playing blaring music and have all these atmospheres that are different.”

By now in full flow, Woods also took aim at LIV’s three-round format.

“I can understand 54 holes is almost like a mandate when you get to the Senior Tour,” he said. “The guys are little bit older and a little more banged up. But when you're at this young age and some of these kids - they really are kids who have gone from amateur golf into that organisation - 72-hole tests are part of it. We used to have 36-hole playoffs for major championships. That's how it used to be. Eighteen-hole US Open playoffs.

“I just don't see how that move is positive in the long-term for a lot of these players, especially if the LIV organisation doesn't get world ranking points and the major championships change their criteria for entering the events. 

“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.” 

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On the subject of Norman, Woods – who never has been bosom-buddies with the Aussie – added: “Greg has done some things that I don't think is in the best interest of our game, and we're coming back to probably the most historic and traditional place in our sport. I believe it's the right thing. 

“I know what the PGA Tour stands for and what we have done and what the TOUR has given us, the ability to chase after our careers and to earn what we get and the trophies we have been able to play for and the history that has been a part of this game. 

“I know Greg tried to do this back in the early '90s. It didn't work then, and he's trying to make it work now. I still don't see how that's in the best interests of the game. What the European Tour and what the PGA Tour stands for and what they've done, and also all the professional – all the governing bodies of the game of golf and all the major championships, how they run it. I think they see it differently than what Greg sees it.” 

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