by Bernie McGuire, Albany, The Bahamas
You could not have asked for a more glowing tribute than Tiger Woods declaring Rory McIlroy to be a ‘true leader’ for his role in the PGA Tour dealings with LIV Golf.
McIlroy has become an unofficial spokesperson for the PGA Tour, taking his role as Chairman of the Tour’s Players Committee to unprecedented new heights given the ongoing controversy to embrace men’s professional golf.
The three-time major winning McIlroy has not wavered in taking on LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman head-on including hurling the now infamous verbal hand grenade at the Australian on the eve of the recent season-ending DP World Tour Championship by stating ‘he needs to go – exit stage left’ and that for any constructive debate between the warning partners, there needs to be ‘an adult in the room’, in direct digs at Norman.
In contrast, Woods has been supportive but also low-key when asked by this journalist how he admired McIlroy for his views, with Woods very praise-worthy of McIlroy.
“What Rory has said and done are what leaders do,” said Woods.
“Rory is a true leader out here on Tour. The fact that he’s actually able to get the things he said out in the public eye, be so clear minded with it and so eloquent with it, meanwhile go out there and win golf tournaments on top of that, people have no idea how hard that is to do, to be able to separate those two things.
“But he’s been fantastic. He’s a great leader in our calls we make and he’s a great leader with all the players out here. Everyone respects him and they respect him because not just his ball-striking, his driving, but the person he is.”
And with golf’s warring parties set to go to court in the new year, Woods was quizzed if either Rory or himself could see themselves becoming a ‘peacemaker’ that would resolve the issue that has commanded far too many off-the-course golfing headlines.
“Yeah, I don’t know whether it’s going to be me, Rory or the tour or other players being — I wouldn’t necessarily say a peacemaker, but I just think that there’s a window, I think, of opportunity for us from both tours to figure this out shortly, but I think that window’s closing just because the majors are coming up now and they’re going to have their own criteria for the majors,” said Woods.
“But if they can do it quickly before that, but again, that goes back to LIV and their lawsuit. They’re suing us first and we countersued them, so they have to back off the table, they will back off the table and then we’ll have a place to talk. But their leadership has to change as well. If that doesn’t, then I think it’s going to continue to go down the path that it’s going right now.”