Tiger Woods turned down an offer between $700 million and $800 million to join the LIV Golf Invitational Series, LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman confirmed in an interview that aired Monday night.
Norman, appearing on an episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight, said LIV Golf approached Woods, a 15-time major champion, before he was named the new circuit’s CEO and commissioner.
“That number was out there before I became CEO,” Norman told Fox News host Tucker Carlson during an interview that took place at this past weekend’s LIV Golf Invitational Series event at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey. “Look, Tiger is a needle mover, right? So, of course you’re got to look at the best of the best. They had originally approached Tiger before I became CEO. That number is somewhere in that neighborhood.”
Woods, 46, has been among the most outspoken supporters of the PGA Tour during its ongoing battle with LIV Golf for the best players in the world. At last month’s Open Championship in St. Andrews, Woods said he supported the R&A’s decision not to invite Norman, a two-time winner of the event, to the 150th celebration of The Open.
“The R&A obviously have their opinions and their rulings and their decision,” Woods said. “Greg has done some things that I don’t think is in the best interest of our game, and we’re coming back to probably the most historic and traditional place in our sport. I believe it’s the right thing.”
Woods was also critical of players who have left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf, which is being financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. LIV Golf has lured several players, including past major champions Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka, to the new tour with guaranteed contracts reportedly worth between $100 million and $200 million, in addition to prize money at each event.
“I disagree with it,” Woods said. “I think that what they’ve done is they’ve turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position.”
During the interview with Carlson, Norman called the PGA Tour a “monopoly” and said it has created obstacles that caused LIV Golf to alter its plans for its launch. Last week, LIV Golf announced that it is expanding its series to 14 tournaments in 2023, with 48 players competing on 12 established team franchises for $405 million in purses.
Last month, two player managers confirmed to ESPN that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the PGA Tour’s handling of its players and whether it has engaged in anticompetitive behavior during its ongoing battle with LIV Golf.
“It’s a monopoly,” Norman said. “They just want to shut us down whatever way they can, so they’ll use whatever leverage point they can to shut us down, and they’re not. They’re not going to shut us down because the product speaks for itself.”
Norman said he was also surprised that some longtime corporate sponsors had dropped players who defected to LIV Golf.
“That blows my mind,” Norman said. “Sponsors, by the way, who spend billions of dollars in Saudi Arabia. The PGA Tour has about 27 sponsors, I think, who do 40-plus billion dollars’ worth of business on an annual basis in Saudi Arabia. Why doesn’t the PGA Tour call the CEO of those organizations [and say], ‘I’m sorry we can’t do business with you because you’re doing business with Saudi Arabia.’ Why are they picking on the professional golfers?”
During the interview with Carlson, Norman noted that one of the biggest sponsors of women’s golf is Aramco, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company.
“Not one word has been said about them,” Norman said. “Why is it on the guys? Why are we the ogres? What have we done wrong?”