Tiger Woods turned down $700-$800 million offer to join Saudi-backed LIV Golf series, CEO says

The controversial tour has attracted some big names from the golfing world to leave the established PGA Tour.

ByBen Morse, CNN, CNNWire
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
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BEDMINSTER, N.J. -- Tiger Woods turned down an offer worth approximately $700-$800 million to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series, according to the tour's CEO Greg Norman.

During an interview on Fox News that aired on Monday, former world No. 1 Norman was asked by Tucker Carlson if it was true that Woods was offered $700-$800 million to join the LIV Golf series.

"That number was out there before I became CEO," Norman replied. "So, that number's been out there, yes. Look, Tiger's a needle mover, right?

"So, of course, you're going to look at the best of the best. They had originally approached Tiger before I became CEO, so, yes, that number is somewhere in that neighborhood."

Previously, Norman had told the Washington Post in June that Woods was offered huge money to participate but turned it down. Norman said the Woods proposal was "mind-blowingly enormous; we're talking about high nine digits."

The controversial tour has attracted some big names from the golfing world to leave the established PGA Tour and the DP World Tour to participate for vast sums of money.

Major winners Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen, Graeme McDowell, Charl Schwartzel and Martin Kaymer have all joined the breakaway venture, which has offered players huge money to join.

The LIV Golf series is backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) -- a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia -- and has pledged to award $250 million in total prize money.

However, it has led to criticism from many players, including Rory McIlroy and Woods, that players have abandoned golf's traditional set up and accepted money from a country with a dismal human rights record.

Before July's Open at St. Andrews, Scotland, Woods said he disagreed with the players who had left.

"I think that what they've done is they've turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position," the 15-time major winner said.

"Some of these players may not ever get a chance to play in major championships. That is a possibility. We don't know that for sure yet. It's up to all the major championship bodies to make that determination. But that is a possibility, that some players will never, ever get a chance to play in a major championship, never get a chance to experience this right here, walk down the fairways at Augusta National.

"But what these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practice? 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. They're playing blaring music and have all these atmospheres that are different."

Woods added: "I just don't see how that move is positive in the long term for a lot of these players, especially if the LIV organization doesn't get world-ranking points and the major championships change their criteria for entering the events.

"It would be sad to see some of these young kids never get a chance to experience it and experience what we've got a chance to experience and walk these hallowed grounds and play in these championships."

Woods even went as far to criticize Norman himself for his role in the splinter tour. "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."

On Sunday, Henrik Stenson won the third event of LIV Golf's debut season at Bedminster, New Jersey.

Nearly two weeks after he was stripped of his Ryder Cup captaincy for joining the series, the 46-year-old Swede shot 11-under par at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster to win $4 million.

He accepted the trophy alongside former US President Donald Trump, who was present throughout the three-day competition and who owns the course.

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