ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Tiger Woods, conspicuously enchanted by his improbable return to his sport’s oldest course, on Tuesday offered a forceful rebuke of the players, past and present, who’ve aligned themselves with the rebel Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.
He chided Greg Norman, the main champion-turned-LIV chief executive, for pursuits that aren’t “in the perfect interest of our game” and backed his effective banishment from this 12 months’s British Open at St. Andrews. He said young players who were defecting from the PGA Tour had “turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position.” And he forged doubt on whether LIV’s model — 54-hole, no-cut tournaments for players making guaranteed money — would allow golf and its top players to thrive.
“I can understand 54 holes is nearly like a mandate whenever you get to the Senior Tour — the blokes are a bit bit older and a bit more banged up — but whenever you’re at this young age and a few of these kids — they are surely kids who’ve gone from amateur golf into that organization — 72-hole tests are an element of it,” Woods, 46, said during a news conference two days before the Open’s scheduled start on Scotland’s coast.
“I just don’t see how that move is positive in the long run for a whole lot of these players, especially if the LIV organization doesn’t get world-ranking points and the main championships change their criteria for entering the events,” he added.
Woods avoided explicit condemnations of current players who’ve joined LIV in exchange for staggering sums, including Sergio García, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed, in addition to an array of less distinguished golfers.
But he pointedly questioned Norman, who has grown so divisive in golf that the R&A, the Open’s organizer, acknowledged over the weekend that it had not invited him to Tuesday’s dinner for past Open champions.
“I do know Greg tried to do that back within the early ’90s,” Woods said of Norman’s quest to challenge golf’s long-established order. “It didn’t work then, and he’s attempting to make it work now. I still don’t see how that’s in the perfect interests of the sport.”
Woods also embraced the R&A’s exile of Norman, who had previously called the choice “petty.”
“Greg has done some things that I don’t think is in the perfect interest of our game, and we’re coming back to probably essentially the most historic and traditional place in our sport,” Woods said. “I think it’s the precise thing.”
Woods’s case against LIV got here as he prepared for what he acknowledged Tuesday could thoroughly be his final Open at his favorite course.
“I’m not going to play a full schedule ever again,” said Woods, who has undergone an aggressive rehabilitation effort since a automobile wreck in February 2021 that led doctors to contemplate a leg amputation. “My body just won’t allow me to try this. I don’t know the way many Open Championships I even have left here at St. Andrews, but I wanted this one. It began here for me in ’95, and if it ends here in ’22, it does. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. If I get the possibility to play another, it could be great, but there’s no guarantee.”