Tiger mostly vague but 'would like to have PIF' part of Tour

Tiger mostly vague but 'would like to have PIF' part of Tour

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – With the PGA Tour still in active negotiations with the Saudi Public Investment Fund, Tiger Woods was hesitant to tip his hand Wednesday knowing the weight of his words as one of golf’s most influential voices.

Woods was vague while describing the ongoing talks and implications of a potential deal with the PIF following the Tour’s announcement Jan. 31 that it had reached an agreement with Strategic Sports Group to inject up to $3 billion in the Tour’s new for-profit entity.

That infusion of cash figures to enrich the players through an equity program, shore up the Tour’s finances and potentially expand its reach, but weighty questions remain about how to repair the fractured landscape at the top level of the sport.

As a key member of the Tour policy board, Woods seemed reluctant to share any of his opinions publicly on the best path forward.

“We’re trying to provide the best entertainment, and in order to do that, you have to have the best players play,” Woods said in a pre-tournament news conference at the Genesis Invitational. “The whole idea of why we have a group like SSG is to provide us with information and help, and trying to create the best tour we could possibly have.”

Woods said that he has not personally met with anyone from the PIF, including governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan. Rory McIlroy revealed that he had talked with Al-Rumayyan at the end of 2022 and asked him what he wanted to do with the sport – an initial conversation that may have played a role in the eventual agreement last summer between the two warring sides.

When asked Wednesday if he had a sense of the PIF’s end game, Woods said that their goals have evolved over the past few months.

“I don’t know if it’s good or bad,” he said. “It’s an ongoing, fluid process.”

Genesis Invitational - Previews
Genesis Invitational - Previews

Genesis Invitational tee times, groupings for Round 2 at Riviera

Tee times and groupings for Tiger Woods and others for Round 2 of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera.

Echoing fellow board member Jordan Spieth’s comments a few weeks ago, Woods said that, in wake of the SSG deal, the Tour doesn’t necessarily need the financial investment from the Saudis but that there would be additional benefits to the partnership.

“Ultimately, we would like to have PIF be a part of our tour and a part of our product,” he said. “Financially, we don’t right now, and the monies that they have come to the table with, and what we initially had agreed to in the framework agreement, those are all the same numbers; anything beyond this is going to be obviously over and above. We’re in a position right now that hopefully we can make our product better in the short term and long term.”

Still on the table is a potential pathway back to the Tour for LIV defectors, though Woods offered no clarity on the would-be avenues in what has become a fierce debate on Tour. When asked directly about his opinion on the best solution, he said simply that the task force is working on different modeling for the possible returns, but “there is no answer to that right now.”

“Trust me,” he said, “there’s daily, weekly emails and talks about this, and what this looks like for our tour going forward.”