Tiger Woods — just like he always is — was prepared for the questions.
And Woods — unlike how he’s always been with his career-long mantra for being vanilla when asked about controversial, hot-button issues — looked delighted to pounce, to make a headline or three, the NY Post reports.
And so, he did exactly that on Tuesday.
Woods, the host of this week’s Hero World Challenge, on Monday withdrew from the playing field with plantar fasciitis. So, he won’t tee it up when the elite 20-player tournament begins on Thursday. Woods did, however, tee up LIV Golf CEO and team commissioner Greg Norman.
And he swung hard.
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Woods doesn’t speak to reporters often — particularly in the last few years as his health has deteriorated and he’s played so few tournaments. The last time he played in a tournament and spoke publicly was on July 15 when he missed the cut in the British Open at St. Andrews.
You could say Woods, who turns 47 on Dec. 30, made up for lost time when the topic of LIV and Norman and whether they can “coexist” with the PGA Tour came up.
“I think Greg has to go, first of all,” Woods said during his 30-minute news conference. “Then we can talk, we can all talk freely.”
Asked if he believes the two sides can come to a resolution, thus putting a halt to the sport’s best players being separated, Woods said, “Not right now, not with their leadership, not with Greg there and his animosity towards the Tour itself. I don’t see that happening.
“Greg’s got to leave and then we can eventually, hopefully, have a stay between the two lawsuits and figure something out. But why would you change anything if you’ve got a lawsuit against you? They sued us first.”
The migration of some of the game’s biggest stars — Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Cam Smith and Phil Mickelson to name a few — for the multi-millions of dollars the Saudis have paid them has divided the sport.
Where does it go from here?
“We don’t know, no one knows,” Woods said. “Right now, there’s a lot of animosity — especially from their leadership. I don’t know what their endgame is. It might be just being an official member of the golf ecosystem and being recognised with World Ranking points. I think that’s what their intended goal is.
“They’ve spent probably close to $2 billion this year. Who’s to say they can’t spend $4 or $5 billion next year? It’s an endless pit of money. But that doesn’t necessarily create legacies either. You want to compare yourself to [Ben] Hogan? You want to compare yourself to [Sam] Snead? You want to compare yourself to [Jack] Nicklaus? You can’t do that over there, but you can on this tour.”
Woods said he believes there’s “a window of opportunity” for the two tours to “figure this out.”
“It has to start with leadership on their side — understanding that what is happening right now is not in the best [interest], not in the best fit or future for the whole game of golf. Now, what is the best way for our game to grow? It’s not this way.
“But you need to have the two bodies come together. If one side has so much animosity, someone trying to destroy our tour, then how do you work with that?”
Norman last month expressed a desire to sit down with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, saying, “We have tried on many angles, many fronts. It’s very disappointing. The ball is in their court now. I can tell you with my heart, all of the PGA Tour players and DP World Tour players who played with LIV … they want to [be able to] go back and play on the PGA Tour.
“The PGA Tour has created this angst. We did not create the angst. Why does competition create heartburn? Why the vitriol?”
Norman, 67, has a history of heartburn with both the PGA Tour and Woods. Some 30 years ago, he tried to create a rival tour and that was squashed by then-commissioner Tim Finchem, who launched a series of World Golf Championship events.
As for Woods, Norman, who held the record for most weeks ranked No. 1 until Woods arrived to his prime and shattered the record, has always felt slighted and disrespected by Woods.
It’s not a healthy situation. Woods and Rory McIlroy are right: Not in our lifetimes will the PGA Tour and LIV be able to come to a resolution with Norman sitting on the LIV end of the negotiating table.
This article originally appeared on the NY Post and was reproduced with permission.|