Woods admits “frustration” at lack of player involvement in initial PGA Tour/PIF merger talks

Mark McGowan
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Tiger Woods at the Hero World Challenge Press Conference (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Despite since becoming a Player Director on the PGA Tour Policy Board, Tiger Woods was as taken aback as any other PGA Tour pro when the June 06 announcement that the PGA and DP World Tour’s were planning on merging with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund which financially backs LIV Golf.

“I would say that my reaction was surprised,” the 15-time Major Champion told the media ahead of his competitive return at the Hero World Challenge, “as I’m sure a lot of the players were taken back by it, by what happened. So quickly without any input or any information about it, it was just thrown out there. I was very surprised that the process was what it was. 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.”

Woods subsequently joined the Policy Board as a sixth Player Director, taking the balance of power back into players’ hands as they not outnumber the non-playing Policy Board members six to five, but admits that progress in advancing any deal to something close to finalisation has been added frustration.

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“I’m pleased at the process and how it’s evolved,” he explained. “Also frustrated in some of the slowness and the governance change that we want to have happen. And December 31st is coming up very quickly, so there’s the timetable there that we would like to implement some of these changes that have not taken place. The guys, all the player directors have spent so many hours and worked tireless hours to make sure that we have the best deal for all the players that are involved, the entire PGA Tour.”

“We have multiple options,” he added, “but still, we would like to have a deal done December 31st. That’s what the agreement said in the summer and all parties understand that. But there are other options out there.”

Before resigning from the Policy Board ahead of the DP World Tour Championship a fortnight ago, Rory McIlroy expressed a preference to have the PIF involved, as opposed to the other investment options that the PGA Tour are considering, but Woods refused to be drawn on where his preferences lay.

“I think we’re looking at all options and trying to figure out what is the best deal for the players,” Tiger said. “There’s a lot of moving parts to that as I was trying to describe earlier.”

Despite his close relationship with McIlroy and their co-efforts in bringing the PGA Tour stars together for a player meeting in Delaware last year – a meeting which was in many ways responsible for bringing the ‘Designated Events’ into reality – Woods is not particularly surprised that McIlroy has chosen to take a back seat and focus on on-course actions as opposed to boardroom actions.

“I totally understand why Rory made that decision,” Tiger conceded. “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.”

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has come under fire from many angles, including from the PGA Tour player base, in the wake of LIV’s creation and the subsequent proposed merger, despite previously refusing to negotiate. But Woods refused to condemn Monahan’s actions, and though he twice declined to go into any great detail, did suggest that Monahan had his support.

“That was part of why I came on to the board is I did have faith in Jay and in what he could do going forward and what can’t happen again,” Woods said.

What he did suggest, however, is what his vision for the PGA Tour of the future looks like and how important it is to have the best players competing regularly against one another.

“What we have to do is we have to make sure that we have access to the game,” Woods said. “I had access to the game. I had an ability to get on Tour. We ensure that, and have — ensure that we protect our schedule, like I talked about earlier, and our Tour and take care of the players. Without the players, there is no Tour. How do we take care of them in a better way, not just financially. Obviously everyone wants to get paid, but how do we have the best competitive atmosphere and competitive events from week to week to week.”

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