Tiger Woods, in his first comments since the Masters, admitted he was “frustrated” with the PGA Tour’s handling of the framework agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
Woods, speaking to the media at this week’s Hero World Challenge, was asked for his reaction to the tour’s surprise announcement with the financial backer of LIV Golf, as Woods had been publicly silent on the matter. The 15-time major winner said he was “surprised” before expressing irritation for how the situation was handled.
“Well, going back to that, I would say that my reaction was surprised as I’m sure a lot of the players were taken back by it, by what happened,” Woods said on Tuesday. “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.”
After feeling like they were left in the dark when the framework agreement was worked out in late May and early June, players wanted to make sure the fate of the tour was in fact in their own hands. A group of 41 players—including Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Woods himself—sent a letter to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan requesting certain steps regarding the tour’s governance “be taken immediately.” One of those steps included Woods joining the PGA Tour Policy Board as part of an effort from the tour to provide transparency measures with its membership.
When asked what drove him to join the board, Woods reiterated a sentiment of irritation of being left in the dark.
“I think the overall emotion is I think what I answered with Rex earlier, is we can’t let that happen again,” Woods said. “How do we do that, is having six player directors so we control the board and we control what we’re going to do. We’re not going to have what transpired in a few months without our involvement again.”
Now that he’s officially part of the negotiations, Woods was asked his opinion on the direction of the deal. Woods’ answer, again, was mixed.
“I’m pleased at the process and how it’s evolved. Also frustrated in some of the slowness and the governance change that we want to have happen,” Woods said. “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.”
Woods was later asked about his opinions of Monahan and the job he’s done. “I think Jay has been a part of the direction, he understands what happened prior to that can’t happen again and won’t happen again, not with the players that are involved and not with the player directors having the role that we have,” Woods responded. Given the straight word, and less than endearing, remarks, Woods was asked if he still had faith in Monahan.
“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.
Along with its negotiations with PIF, the PGA Tour has been entertaining interest from several companies vying to provide financial backing. It remains unclear if this backing would be an alternative to PIF’s support or to supplement it in order to appease U.S. antitrust regulations. Earlier this fall the PGA Tour acknowledged these discussions in a memo to its membership. “We remain focused on reaching a definitive agreement with PIF and the DP World Tour, but not surprisingly, these negotiations have resulted in unsolicited outreach and proposals from a number of other interested investors,” the PGA Tour’s Jason Gore wrote in the memo, which has been obtained by Golf Digest. “All of this activity reinforces the tour’s strong position and our potential for growth.”
Though much remains up in the air, Woods said, ultimately, he is confident a deal will come to fruition.
“Whether that comes December 31st or is pushed back, we’re all—all sides understand we’re working together,” Woods said. “There are no lawsuits. Everyone’s understanding what that looks like and we’re all progressing going forward. Everyone’s working right now with no animosity. We’re trying to work to try and get a deal done for the tour and for all parties involved.”
Image: David Cannon