Tiger Woods has admitted to being “very frustrated” by the circumstances surrounding the controversial framework agreement between golf’s established tours and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
Speaking for the first time since he withdrew from the Masters in April, the 15-times major winner made plain alternative investment deals remain very much an option for the PGA and DP World Tours.
Woods joined the PGA Tour’s policy board in August. Two months earlier he had been caught unaware by news the organisation was seeking to combine commercial forces with the PIF, which funds the rebel LIV circuit. Documents state the framework agreement must become reality by December 31st, a deadline which is widely accepted as hugely optimistic.
“My reaction was surprised as I’m sure were a lot of the players [who] were taken aback by what happened,” Woods said. “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 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.
“I was frustrated with the fact that the players were never involved. This is our tour and we were all taken back by it. It happened so quickly without any of our involvement. No one knew. That can’t happen again.”
Woods was not quite effusive in his backing for Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour’s commissioner. “He understands what happened prior to that [announcement] can’t happen again and won’t happen again,” the 47-year-old insisted. “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.”
Pressed on the direction of the Tour since his appointment, Woods added: “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. 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 PGA Tour is known to have received overtures from private equity firms in the United States, who in theory could usurp any Saudi deal. Woods agreed with the term “murky” to describe the future of elite golf.
“We have multiple options,” Woods said. “But still, we would like to have a deal done by December 31st. That’s what the agreement said in the summer and all parties understand that. But there are other options out there.”
Woods believes his game is “rusty” as he makes his latest playing comeback, at this week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. Recent years have been beset by multiple injury issues. The golfer’s foundation is a benefactor from the event, with Woods the tournament host.
“I’m excited to compete and play and I’m just as curious as all of you are to see what happens because I haven’t done it in a while,” Woods said. “I don’t have any of the pain that I had at Augusta or pre that in my ankle. Other parts are taking the brunt of the load so I’m a little more sore in other areas but the ankle is good.”
There followed an optimistic and surprising glance forward to playing in 2024.
“Best scenario would be maybe a tournament a month,” he said. “I think that’s realistic. You would have to start with maybe at the Genesis Invitational and something in March near the Players. We have a set up right now, the biggest events are one per month. It sets itself up for that. I need to get myself ready for all that. I think this week is a big step in that direction.”