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Tiger Woods: PGA Tour could manage without Saudi money

Tiger Woods during a practice round before the Genesis Invitational
Tiger Woods is making his first competitive appearance of the season at Riviera - AP/Ryan Kang

Tiger Woods believes that the PGA Tour does not need to strike a deal with the Saudis after the £2.4 billion investment by private US equity, but acknowledges that it would be preferable for the Public Investment Fund to be involved.

Woods is one of six players on the Tour policy board and he and his camp played a role in securing the 10-figure contract with Strategic Sports Group, a consortium led by Fenway Sports Group, the owners of Liverpool FC.

The 48-year-old said on Wednesday that “this puts us in a very good good position” at the same time as suggesting that in effect, the huge SSG injection of cash, has overridden ‘the framework agreement’ signed last summer between the Tour with PIF - the £600 billion fund that bankrolls LIV Golf.

“Ultimately we would like to have PIF be a part of our Tour and a part of our product, but financially we don’t now,” Woods replied when asked if they need to strike a deal with PIF after the SSG input. “With SSG and the amount of monies that they have come to the table with and with what he had initially agreed with in the framework agreement, those are all the same numbers. So anything beyond this is going to be over and above.”

How PIF will feel about Woods’ statements is a moot point, but two weeks ago Jordan Spieth, another player on the policy board, uttered similar comments which ‘disappointed’ Rory McIlroy.

“My thing was if I’m the original investor that thought that they were going to get this deal done back in July, and I’m hearing a board member say that, you know, we don’t really need them, now, how are they going to think about that?” he said. “If I was PIF, it wouldn’t have made me too happy.”

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the PIF governor who is also the chairman of LIV and Newcastle United, has assured the rebel golfers who joined the breakaway league formed in 2022 that it does have a future. In December, LIV signed reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm in a £450million swoop, with the Spaniard’s Ryder Cup partner, England’s Tyrrell Hatton, joining last month before the league’s first event of the season.

Both have expressed their desire to play again on the PGA Tour and, despite widespread opposition in the locker room to McIlroy’s belief that the defectors should be allowed back unpunished, Woods revealed that there are annoying conversations about the burning issue. “Trust me, there are weekly emails about this and what this looks like for our Tour going forwards,” he said.

Woods is playing in his first official tournament in 10 months here at the $20 million Genesis Invitational as he struggles to recover from right-leg injuries sustained in a life-threatening car crash in this city three years ago. He tees off in Thursday’s first round at 9.25 am local time in a high-class limited field of just 70 players, including McIlroy who could replace Scottie Scheffler as world No 1 on Sunday.

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