Tiger Woods hits out at Greg Norman over 'animosity' around golf's civil war

Tiger Woods used to let his clubs do the talking but, in a year when he’s only played nine competitive rounds, the 15-time major winner has clearly decided it’s time to make some impact through his words.

Tiger Woods and Greg Norman pictured during the 2004 Open at Royal Troon. Woods is not a fan of Norman in his role as LIV Golf CEO and commissioner. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.
Tiger Woods and Greg Norman pictured during the 2004 Open at Royal Troon. Woods is not a fan of Norman in his role as LIV Golf CEO and commissioner. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.

As was the case in his pre-150th Open press conference at St Andrews in July, Woods didn’t hold back as he prepared to host this week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas and his top target was Greg Norman.

A fortnight after Rory McIlroy had said the same thing during the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, Woods called for Norman, LIV Golf’s CEO and commissioner, to step aside in order for peace to have a chance of breaking out in the game’s much-publicised civil war.

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“I think Greg has got to go,” declared the 46-year-old of Norman, who, with Saudi Arabian backing, set up his breakaway circuit earlier this year and, as a consequence of the reaction to that from the PGA Tour, is now suing it.

Tiger Woods, who is is hosting this week's Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, speaks to the media at Albany Golf Resort alongside Dr Pawan Munjal, Chairman and CEO of Hero MotoCorp. Picture: Hero MotoCorp

That has led to a counter case from the PGA Tour, but, according to Woods, the first step in any attempt to broker a peace deal is for Norman, a former world No 1 and two-time major winner, to remove himself from the picture.

“Not right now, not with their leadership, not with Greg there and his animosity towards the tour itself,” he replied to being asked if the two organisations can co-exist. “I don't see that happening.

“As Rory said, I think Greg's got to leave and then we can eventually, hopefully, have a stay between the two lawsuits and figure something out. But why would you change anything if you've got a lawsuit against you? They sued us first.”

LIV Golf splashed out millions to entice the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau to join the circuit, a step that immediately led to them being banned by the PGA Tour.

The DP World Tour also took action against players, including Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, for playing in the inaugural LIV Golf event in England without receiving an official release, with that action set to be the subject of a court case in February.

“We don't know. No one knows,” said Woods when asked about what he believed the end game is for LIV Golf. “Right now there's a lot of animosity, especially from their leadership. And they want to be a validated tour with world ranking points and they're buying up tours around the world. I don't know what their end game is.

“It might be just being an official member of the golf ecosystem and being recognised with World Ranking Points. I think that's what their intended goal is. You know, they've spent probably close to $2 billion this year. Who's to say they can't spend 4 or $5 billion next year? “It's an endless pit of money.

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“But that doesn't necessarily create legacies either. You want to compare yourself to [Ben] Hogan, you want to compare yourself to [Sam] Snead, you want to compare yourself to [Jack] Nicklaus, you can't do that over there, but you can on this tour.”

Earlier this year, Woods and McIlroy, who has been more vocal than anyone in speaking out against LIV Golf, hosted a PGA Tour players’ meeting at the BMW PGA Championship in Delaware. “Well, the message is that we can't compete dollar for dollar with the PIF, just we physically can't do that,” said Woods of that.

“But what we can do is talk about better opportunities for younger players getting onto the tour, what it means to play the Tour, how important it is, how important it is to have a legacy, be able to win major championships.

“As of right now we don't know where the major championships stand on this. So if you're a tour player in the top 50, you already know that you're in the major championships, but the other players don't. They're taking a chance of never ever, ever getting a chance to play in major championships. And so where does your legacy stand there?”

McIlroy and Jon Rahm are divided about a new system being used for the Official World Golf Ranking. McIlroy, the current world No 1, reckons the changes are okay, but Woods sided with Rahm in opposing that view.

“It's a flawed system,” said the man who spent most of his career at the top of the standings. “The field at Dubai (in the DP World Tour Championship) got less points than Sea Island (venue for a PGA Tour event the same week) and more of the top players were there in Dubai, so obviously there's a flawed system. How do you fix it? Those are meetings we're going to have to have and somehow come up with a better system than is in place now.

“I remember in my career, when I had a big lead in my career, I didn't have to play a single tournament the next year and I still would be ranked No. 1. We changed that system then. So it has been changed in the past and I'm sure this will be changed hopefully soon.”

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Disappointing for him in particular, Woods isn’t now playing at the Albany resort this week after developing plantar fasciitis in his right foot as he was gearing up for a first appearance since July.

“It was a tough decision,” he admitted, having also revealed he underwent a “couple surgeries” this year as he continues to nurse leg injuries suffered in a car crash early in 2021. “I can hit the golf ball and hit whatever shot you want, I just can't walk.”

He’s hoping it’s a minor setback, though, “The goal is to play just the major championships and maybe one or two more.,” he said looking ahead to 2023, when The Open is taking place at Royal Liverpool, where he won in 2006. “Physically, that's all I can do. I don't have much left in this leg, so gear up for the biggest ones.”

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