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Tiger: Not against PGA-PIF deal; talks ongoing

tiger:-not-against-pga-pif-deal;-talks-ongoing
Tiger: Not against PGA-PIF deal; talks ongoing
  • Mark Schlabach, ESPN Senior WriterFeb 14, 2024, 06:27 PM ET

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    • Senior college football writer
    • Author of seven books on college football
    • Graduate of the University of Georgia

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Tiger Woods said he isn’t opposed to the Public Investment Fund being an investor in the PGA Tour, and that negotiations with officials from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund are ongoing.

“Ultimately, we would like to have PIF be a part of our tour and a part of our product,” Woods said Wednesday during a news conference ahead of The Genesis at Riviera Country Club. “Financially, we don’t right now, and the monies that they have come to the table with and what we initially had agreed to in the framework agreement, those are all the same numbers.

“Anything beyond this is going to be obviously over and above. We’re in a position right now, [where] hopefully we can make our product better in the short term and long term.”

Beyond that, Woods, a player director on the PGA Tour’s policy board, didn’t offer many details on a potential deal with the PIF and what the tour’s future might look like.

The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and the PIF signed a framework agreement on June 6 to combine their assets into a new for-profit entity, PGA Tour Enterprises. The framework agreement had a Dec. 31 deadline. A deal wasn’t reached and the deadline was extended.

On Jan. 31, the PGA Tour reached a deal with Strategic Sports Group (SSG), a consortium of billionaire sports team owners led by John Henry and Tom Werner of Fenway Sports, that might inject as much as $3 billion into PGA Tour Enterprises. The new company was launched the next day.

A potential deal with the PIF might inject another $3 billion or more into PGA Tour Enterprises.

In a memo to players on Feb. 7, the PGA Tour said it would grant more than $1.5 billion in equity in PGA Tour Enterprises to past, current and future members over the next several years. Under the plan, $930 million in initial player equity grants will be awarded to 193 PGA Tour members who will fall in one of four categories.

“At the end of the day, we’re trying to provide the best entertainment, and in order to do that you have to have the best players play,” Woods said. “We want to involve the history and the traditions of our tour, and have the pathways, accessibility, all of the intangibles that have made the PGA Tour what it is right now and what has been, and hopefully what it will continue to be even better.

“And how do we do that? That’s the whole idea of why we have a group like SSG to provide us with information and help and try to create the best tour we could possibly have.”

SSG’s investors also include Mark Attanasio (Milwaukee Brewers), Arthur Blank (Atlanta Falcons), Wyc Grousbeck (Boston Celtics), Steve Cohen (New York Mets), among others.

“The consortium that they have at SSG, the partners that they have that have come together to be a part of this group, is quite remarkable, to be honest with you, in the sports industry,” Woods said. “They’re unbelievable leaders. At the time that we need great leadership going forward, I think this elicits that — the amazing brains of ideas that can make this tour better and we’re looking forward to that.”

When asked about possible pathways back to the PGA Tour for players who jumped to LIV Golf the past couple of years, Woods described it as an ongoing process.

“We’re looking into all the different models for pathways back,” Woods said. “What that looks like, what the impact is for the players who have stayed and who have not left, and how we make our product better going forward, there is no answer to that right now.

“We’re looking at varying degrees of ideas, and what that looks like in the short term, we don’t know. We don’t even know in the longer term what that looks like. Trust me, there’s daily, weekly emails and talks about this and what this looks like for our tour going forward.”

Woods said the PIF’s endgame has changed during more than eight months of negotiations since a framework agreement was signed June 6.

“From what their representatives have discussed with us, that changes and that evolves from a few months ago to what it is currently now,” Woods said.

Asked whether that’s a good or bad development, Woods replied, “I don’t know if it’s good or bad. It’s an ongoing, fluid process.”

Woods, 48, will be making his first start in an official PGA Tour event since he pulled out of the weather-delayed third round of the Masters in April. He was limping badly in the season’s first major because of severe pain in his right foot and ankle.

The 15-time major winner underwent fusion surgery on April 19 to address post-traumatic arthritis he suffered in the car wreck. The procedure sidelined him for nearly eight months.

“How the body feels from day to day and the grind of trying to practice and get ready for an event, just the overall just aging process of it all, that has been the trick of it and been the challenge of it,” Woods said. “Since then I’ve had my ankle fused, so that’s different.

“[I’m still] trying to get used to the new feels of the body. That’s always the challenge. And the challenges of trying to get tour-ready, that’s what we’ve been trying to do the last couple weeks, trying be sure I’m physically fit and ready to play this event.”

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