Woods warns LIV rebels to enjoy The Open while they can
Tiger Woods warned players who have jumped to the rebel LIV Golf Invitational Series to enjoy The Open while they can because the door to the major champion
Tiger Woods warned players who have jumped to the rebel LIV Golf Invitational Series to “enjoy The Open while they can” because the door to the major championships could soon be closed.
The Open had hoped for a halt to the escalating hostilities between the PGA and DP Tours and the LIV Series during its 150th anniversary celebrations but the bitterness surfaced again on Tuesday with Woods taking aim at the big-money Saudi-backed venture. Back at St Andrews where he has won two of his three Claret Jugs, Woods opened fire by accusing old rival Phil Mickelson and others who have signed on with LIV Golf of turning their backs on the PGA and DP Tours, who gave them the opportunity to build their careers.
While the US and European based Tours have banned and fined anyone joining the LIV Series, the majors have so far allowed golfers who have qualified to continue to compete in golf’s most prestigious events. However Woods cautioned that those opportunities could be coming to an end. “Who knows what’s going to happen in the near future with world-ranking points, the criteria for entering major championships?” said Woods, who will be playing the third event in his comeback from a career-threatening car crash that nearly resulted in the 15-times major winner losing his right leg.
“Some of these players may not ever get a chance to play in major championships,” he continued. “That is a possibility, that some players will never, ever get a chance to experience this right here, walk down the fairways at Augusta National. The players who have chosen to go to LIV and play there, I disagree with it. I think that what they’ve done is they’ve turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position.
With players lured away from the established Tours by massive guaranteed contracts and a 54-hole format, Woods compared the LIV Series to the senior Champions Tour. The eight event series bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), is offering super-sized purses while Mickelson was paid a reported $200 million to come on board. “What these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practise?” questioned Woods. “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. I just don’t see how out of 54 holes is almost like a mandate when you get to the Senior Tour.”
Woods also said he agreed with the Royal & Ancient’s decision not to invite LIV CEO Greg Norman to be part of the 150th anniversary by politely asking the Australian to stay away so as not to distract from the celebrations. “Greg has done some things that I don’t think is in the best interest of our game, and we’re coming back to probably the most historic and traditional place in our sport,” said Woods. “I believe it’s the right thing. I know Greg tried to do this back in the early ‘90s. It didn’t work then, and he’s trying to make it work now. I still don’t see how that’s in the best interests of the game,” Woods concluded.