Ahead of this week’s 150th Open, Tiger Woods has come out strongly against the players who have decided to sign up for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit.
Widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, Woods was asked for his thoughts on the LIV Golf defectors and the normally tight-lipped 15-time Major winner wasn’t about to shirk the question.
“I disagree with it,” said Woods, a man often credited for single-handedly transforming the sport of golf to the modern player’s benefit.
“I think that what they’ve done is they’ve turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position.
“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.
“And who knows what’s going to happen in the near future with world-ranking points, the criteria for entering major championships. The governing body is going to have to figure that out.
“Some of these players may not ever get a chance to play in major championships. That is a possibility. 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, walk down the fairways at Augusta National.
“That, to me, I just don’t understand it. I understand what Jack and Arnold 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.
“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.
“I can understand 54 holes is almost like a mandate when you get to the Senior Tour. 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 — 18-hole U.S. 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.”
And while Woods was outspoken on all matters LIV, there was also good news for Tiger’s legion of fans on Tuesday from St Andrews. There had been speculation that Woods could wave goodbye to the game on the famous Swilken Bridge this week but far from considering retirement, Woods was contemplating another shot at St Andrews further down the line, albeit as part of a continued limited schedule as his rehab slowly continues.
“Who? Me, retire? No, no, no, no. I’m not retiring,” Woods told Sky Sports. “But not playing a full schedule, that’s just my reality. I don’t like it, but I just have to accept it.
“As far as retiring, no. But this may be my last chance I’ll be playing at St Andrews with a chance to compete at the highest level.
“If it comes around in five, six, seven or eight years’ time, whatever the time frame is, who knows if I’ll be playing the game of golf at this level? I appreciate every single moment, especially coming back here.”