In all likelihood, Tiger Woods was never going to leave the PGA Tour for the new controversial LIV Golf Invitational Series.
That, though, doesn’t mean that the Saudi Arabian-backed venture didn’t try to land golf’s biggest star.
In fact, according to Hall of Famer and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, they offered him a “mind-blowingly enormous” deal.
“We’re talking about high nine digits,” Norman told The Washington Post.
If Norman is telling the truth, that means Woods turned down close to $1 billion. Even for the highest earning golfer in PGA Tour history, an offer like that has to at least make him pause for a second.
LIV Golf will officially kick off its new series this week in London. Norman has recruited some big names, including Dustin Johnson and Kevin Na — who offifically resigned from the PGA Tour last weekend. Phil Mickelson is set to return to golf for the first time in London, too. He hasn’t played in months following his explosive comments about Saudi Arabia and the new venture.
It’s unclear how much these players have been paid to join the league against the PGA Tour’s wishes, though there are reports that Dustin Johnson was paid more than $100 million.
Woods has played just twice since his horrific car crash over a year ago, most recently at the PGA Championship — though he withdrew before the end.
Just before play kicked off at Southern Hills, Woods addressed Mickelson and the LIV Golf series.
“Phil has said some things that I think a lot of us who are committed to the Tour — and committed to the legacy of the Tour — have pushed back against,” Woods said. “But as we all know, as a professional, we miss him being out here. I mean, he's a big draw for the game of golf. He's just taking his time and we all wish him the best when he comes back … I have not reached out to him. I have not spoken with him. I have a completely different stance on [the PGA Tour operations] … and so no, I have not reached out to him.”
Norman calls out ‘brainwashed’ Rory McIlroy
Norman also called out one of his biggest critics in his interview with The Washington Post.
Rory McIlroy, he said, has been “brainwashed” by golf’s ruling class.
McIlroy has been one of the biggest opponents of Norman’s new venture, repeatedly slamming it at every turn for months. He called the league “dead in the water,” and ripped Mickelson’s comments about the “scary motherf***ers” he’s now agreed to work with.
Norman also was asked about former Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered by Saudi Arabia in 2018. Norman and Mickelson have both said they are willing to overlook that, and Norman even said that “we’ve all made mistakes” — which, naturally, drew tons of backlash.
Though he called the murder reprehensible, he stands by his original stance.
“I’m not in this thing for Khashoggi or anything like that,” he told The Washington Post. “I’m in here because of the game of golf. That’s what I care about. If I focus on the game of golf and don’t get dragged into this other stuff, that’s my priority.”
He’s not having any trouble sleeping at night, either.
“Every country,” he said when asked about his conscience, “has got a cross to bear.”