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‘We've got to keep him busy’: PGA stars back Tiger Woods to look after their interests in LIV merger

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Tiger Woods is joining the PGA Tour’s newly expanded policy board, the tour announced Tuesday, in a move aimed at cooling player tensions over secrecy surrounding merger talks with the Saudi backers of LIV Golf.

The 15-time major champion, a long-time supporter of the PGA Tour in its fight with upstart LIV, will have a direct say in approving any eventual deal with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), the framework of which was unveiled in June to the shock of tour players.

“I’m honored to represent the players of the PGA Tour,” Woods said in a statement from the tour.

“This is a critical point for the tour, and the players will do their best to make certain that any changes that are made in tour operations are in the best interest of all tour stakeholders, including fans, sponsors and players.”

PGA commissioner Jay Monahan, under fire from many players over handling of the LIV talks since he made the announcement, said future rule changes will require the involvement and approval of the six player directors from the board, including Woods and Rory McIlroy.

That gives player representatives an upper hand on the 11-member board and the power in all decisions regarding any final agreement with the Saudis.

The special advisor to the player directors, Colin Neville, will be fully aware of the state of talks on the “framework agreement” with LIV, which the board must approve by the end of the year in order for the controversial merger to occur.

“The players thank commissioner Monahan for agreeing to address our concerns and we look forward to being at the table with him to make the right decisions for the future of the game that we all love,” Woods said.

“He has my confidence moving forward with these changes.”

The Washington Post reported that 41 PGA Tour players — including stars McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler — sent Monahan a letter on Monday asking Woods be added to the policy board and the tour’s governance structure be reviewed immediately.

PGA player Charley Hoffman said Woods pushed for a place among the decision makers and Monahan had little choice than to agree.

“Tiger has done more for golf than arguably anybody,” Hoffman said. “To have him sit in those meetings now is very powerful and I think his voice will be listened to.”

And, he added, it will begin rebuilding the trust between Monahan and players.

“It’s a start. This is the best move we’ve made in the past few months,” he said. “It’s Tiger coming up with it and I think he wants to be part of the PGA Tour going forward.”

Woods, 47, has been limited in his ability to play in recent years by severe leg injuries suffered in a 2021 car crash.

Monahan said having the leadership and voice of Woods is “welcomed and impactful” as he tries to complete the PGA-LIV deal.

“I’m committed to taking the necessary steps to restore any lost trust or confidence that occurred as a result of the surprise announcement of our framework agreement,” Monahan said.

“Any agreement we reach must be shaped by our members’ input and approval earned through our player directors.”

‘Got to keep him busy’

Players at this week’s PGA Tour event in Greensboro, North Carolina, supported the move.

That included two-time major winner Justin Thomas, a long-time friend of Woods, who has invoked legends Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer in backing the PGA Tour.

“It’s important to him,” Thomas said. “When Arnold and Jack passed the torch to him, that’s not something he takes lightly.

“I don’t think there’s anybody else I would want speaking on my behalf and the rest of the guys.”

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Thomas warned, however, that it would likely take more than Woods to soothe players who felt betrayed by Monahan.

“You’re never going to make everybody happy,” Thomas said. “It’s about the majority and what’s best for the entire PGA Tour. I’d like to think and hope the membership understands that’s what Tiger has in mind, especially with him clearly not playing as much.

“We’ve got to keep him busy somehow. He can’t just sit on the couch and do nothing.”

AFP

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