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Tiger Woods admits he was “very frustrated” to be blindsided by the PGA Tour’s proposed deal with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, but he still expects the deal to go through.
Speaking ahead of his comeback at this Hero World Challenge, Woods revealed he was “surprised” about the agreement that would see the PGA and DP World Tours unite with the sovereign wealth fund bankrolling LIV Golf as one for-profit entity.
But as US private equity firms queue up to partner the PGA Tour, Woods is still backing the circuit’s under-fire commissioner Jay Monahan to finalise a deal with the Saudis ahead of a self-imposed December 31 deadline.
“I would say my reaction was surprised,” Woods said when asked about the shock announcement on June 6. “So quickly without any input or any information about it, it was just thrown out there.
“We were very frustrated with what happened and we took steps going forward to ensure that the player involvement was not going. We were not going to be left out of the process like we were. So part of that process was putting me on the board and accepting that position.
“I was frustrated with the fact that the players were never involved. This is our tour, we were all taken back by it. It happened so quickly without any of our involvement. No one knew. That can’t happen again.”
As anger grew with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, Woods was promptly appointed as the sixth player-director on a revised policy board, which had been formed in response to the widespread loss of trust caused by the proposed deal.
Woods retains faith in Monahan, but hinted that the under-fire chief has reached the last chance saloon.
“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,” Woods said. “Not with the players that are involved and not with the player directors having the role that we have.”
And on the agreement that he still describes as “murky”, Woods is still anticipating a deal to get completed.
“I am confident a deal will get done in some way,” he said. “Whether that comes December 31st or is pushed back, 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.”
Woods also reacted to his close friend Rory McIlroy’s decision to walk away from the negotiation table he had just joined after the Northern Irishman stood down from his player-director role earlier this month.
“I totally understand why Rory made that decision,” he said. “We put a lot of effort and time into the Delaware meeting and getting everyone aligned for that. Going from there and the next couple years, just the involvement or the conflict within golf and then his participation at the highest level.
“He was in contention almost every tournament he played in and he was the spokesman at the same time. So that was very difficult on him personally and I totally understand it.”
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