MIAMI, Nov 29 ― Tiger Woods is confident the US PGA Tour merger agreement with Saudi backers of the LIV Golf League will be completed, vowing yesterday to make the best deal for players.
The 15-time major winner is among six players on the Tour Policy Board that must approve the framework deal by a December 31 deadline or risk a return to golf's civil war.
“I'm confident a deal will get done in some way, whether that comes December 31 or it's pushed back,” Woods said ahead of his return to competition after ankle surgery at this week's Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
“All the parties are talking and we're aggressively working on trying to get a deal done. All sides understand we're working together. There are no lawsuits. Everyone's working right now with no animosity.”
Woods, who joined the policy board five months ago, wants a faster process.
“I'm pleased at the process and how it has evolved,” Woods said. “Also, frustrated at some of the slowness at the change we wanted to happen. December 31 is coming up very quickly.
“We're looking at all options and trying to figure out what's the best deal for the players. There's a lot of moving parts to that.”
Woods said he was frustrated and shocked like many players when the PGA-LIV framework deal was unveiled by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in June, stunned such a major move would be made without player input ― a situation Woods said won't be repeated.
“I was very surprised the process was what it was and we were very frustrated at what happened,” Woods said.
“We took steps going forward to ensure players were not going to be left out of the process like we were. Part of that was putting me onto the board and accepting that position.
“We can't let that happen again.”
Asked if he still had faith in Monahan, Woods said: “I did have faith in Jay and in what he could do going forward and what can't happen again.
“He understands what happened prior can't happen again and won't happen again.”
Other private equity partners have pitched a deal to invest in the PGA Tour if the deal with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) falls through.
“We have multiple options but we would like to have a deal done December 31,” Woods said. “But there are other options out there.”
How can team golf work?
Among the undecided issues is how PGA players who departed for LIV, and were subsequently banned from PGA events, could return to the tour.
“As far as a pathway, we're still working on that,” Woods said. “It's part of what we're trying to work through.”
Woods noted that equity investors want a return on their financing, adding, “We have to protect the integrity of our tour. Trying to figure all that out the past few months has been a very difficult task.”
Woods said his concern was making sure players had schedule protection and the competitive integrity of events was secure and what players might have to surrender to investors.
“We control what we're going to do,” Woods said. “We're not going to have (decisions) without our involvement again.”
Woods said he could “totally understand” why Rory McIlroy quit the board, in part to focus on his game, but he has a different motive.
“I can have a lasting impact on the future of golf by being on the board and being part of the future of the PGA Tour,” Woods said.
Woods said another matter the board is considering is team golf, which is a major part of LIV's structure.
“There's a way we can all benefit from team golf. It's just how do we do it? We're trying to figure out that process right now,” Woods said, cautious about how it would impact players seeking individual success.
“That's something we've focused on and don't take lightly,” he said. ― AFP