On the same day that Phil Mickelson finally joined the new breakaway LIV Golf Series, Tiger Woods rejected a figure of around AU$1 billion to follow suit, proving either Woods does not need the cash or he cares too much about his legacy on the PGA Tour. Or maybe a bit of both.
Aussie and LIV chief executive Greg Norman made the stunning admission in a fiery interview with the Washington Post titled, “The Shark is on the attack again.” And boy did he smell blood. In the piece he accused Jack Nicklaus of being hypocritical, Rory McIlroy of allowing himself to be “brainwashed” and took aim at the PGA Tour for “conspiring against LIV to protect an antiquated system that prevents golfers from realising their own power and worth amid a global movement of athlete empowerment.”
Woods has spoken out against the controversial Saudi-backed venture multiple times, but only now has it been revealed the magnitude of money being thrown at him by the tournament’s organisers. And it came from Norman himself.
“(The proposal) was mind-blowingly enormous,” Norman said. “We are talking about high nine digits.”
Norman, who has spent most of his adult life living in the USA, was likely talking in US Dollars, opening the possibility Woods could have been offered more than $1 billion AUD to play in the new league. Professional services firm Kroll estimates Woods has earned more than $2.5 billion (AUD) in his career to date and will rake in more than $60 million annually until he turns 50 in four years.
Woods doesn’t exactly need the cash, but none of the golfers who have joined do either. Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer are all multi-millionaires, and so is Mickelson despite a strong affliction to gambling.
Based on Woods’s previous public explanation, his rejection of LIV Golf is based on loyalty to the PGA Tour and its history, which dates to 1968 in its modern iteration. It also follows Nicklaus saying no to a seven-figure offer to be the face of the new tournament.
“I believe in major championships,” Woods said in May.
“I believe in big events, comparisons to historical figures of the past. There’s plenty of money out there. The Tour is growing. But it’s just like any other sport. It’s like tennis. You have to go out there and earn it. You’ve got to go out there and play for it. We have the opportunity to go ahead and do it. It’s just not guaranteed up front.”
The LIV Golf Series Invitational begins on June 9 with a three-day, 54-hole tournament at the Centurian Club in London. The 48-man field is star-studded, even if it will not include Woods or McIlroy.
Organisers targeted a wealthy audience and so far ticket sales have been underwhelming, even with artists Craig David and James Morrison set to headline the evening entertainment. Arlo White, who Ted Lasso fans would know from the hit TV show, will be the lead commentator following his departure from NBC in the USA.