Tiger Woods turned down between $700 to $800 million to join the LIV Golf Tour, but why did the 15-time major champion decline such an unprecedented offer?
Of all the superstars who have been given big-money offers to join the LIV Golf Tour, no one’s resolve has been tested more than sporting icon and golf legend Tiger Woods.
Greg Norman revealed that Woods was offered between $700 and $800 million to join the Saudi-backed series, which is even considerably more than the reported figure of $200 million which has been given to Phil Mickelson.
LIV Golf believes it has an exciting, fast-paced product which is growing to 14 tournaments in 2023. The shotgun starts, short 54-hole format and festival-like, chaotic vibes are all new additions to the professional game.
Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka have all spoken about the fun they have had since joining the controversial new series. The spectators at each event have created raucous atmospheres which all of the players have enjoyed.
Tie this in with the $2 billion investment that Norman has secured from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia that is funding the field and you may think: why did Tiger Woods turn down LIV Golf?
A decision to join LIV Golf is effectively a question of what a player wants from their career. Do they want bags of money to set up their future? Or, do they want to create a legacy in real tournaments?
Legacy is a key word that has been used by players who have dismissed the Saudi Golf League, as PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan calls it. Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Matt Fitzpatrick have all used this word in their defence of the circuit.
And so as Woods. He has won 82 times and picked up 15 major championships. He has created countless memories and highlight reels on the Tour since he joined it in 1996.
“I’ve decided for myself that I’m supporting the PGA Tour. That’s where my legacy is. I’ve been fortunate enough to have won 82 events on this tour and 15 major championships, and been a part of the World Golf Championships, the start of them and the end of them,” Woods said at the Hero World Challenge in 2021.
“I think the tour is in great hands. They’re doing fantastic, and prize money is going up. It’s just not guaranteed money like most sports are. It’s just like tennis, you have to go out there and earn it.”
His legacy goes beyond wins too. Since his serious car accident in 2021, the outpouring of condolences and love towards Woods from his PGA Tour colleagues shows he has become not just a friend, but a mentor to many players.
Memories at major titles
The 150th Open Championship at St Andrews certainly would have offered some perspective to players on the supposed LIV Golf waiting list who are on the fence about moving over.
It was a magical week where legends such as Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino and Gary Player were present, walking the course at the home of golf where they have thrilled crowds in years previous.
Ahead of the event in which he missed the cut, Woods spoke about the young players, some of them amateurs, who may never walk the walks that he and the greats have done at The Open and other major championships.
The major organisations are yet to sanction players who’ve joined the LIV Golf schedule and potential suspensions from golf’s biggest events are just rumours. But there is jeopardy, and Woods couldn’t comprehend this risk.
“To play there, I disagree with it. I think that what they’ve done is they’ve turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position,” Woods said back in July at St Andrews.
“Some players have never got a chance to even experience it. They’ve gone right from the amateur ranks right into that organisation and never really got a chance to play out here and what it feels like to play a Tour schedule or to play in some big events.
“And who knows what’s going to happen in the near future with world-ranking points, the criteria for entering major championships. The governing body is going to have to figure that out.
“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.
“That, to me, I just don’t understand it. I understand what Jack and Arnold did because playing professional golf at a Tour level versus a club pro is different, and I understand that transition and that move and the recognition that a touring pro versus a club pro is.”
The PGA Tour certainly don’t have to worry about Woods’ allegiance. The 46-year-old is invested in his legacy on the tour and he is determined to keep his name cemented alongside the likes of Nicklaus, Palmer and Player in the history of the game.
Woods is a billionaire
Back in June, it was reported that Woods’ net worth reached $1 billion. NBA legends LeBron James and Michael Jordan are the only other sportsmen who have amassed this vast fortune.
Throughout the entirety of Woods’ illustrious career, Forbes estimates that he has raked in a whopping $1.7billion in salary, endorsements and other income over his 27 years playing the game.
In his career on the PGA Tour, he has earned $120,895,206 and unsurprisingly, he is the career-money leader in the history of the circuit.
As much as legacy was important in his decision in rejecting LIV Golf, Woods doesn’t exactly need $800 million. He has become one of the biggest sports stars ever and he transcends the game.