Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods railed against the players who left the PGA Tour to join the LIV Golf Series at a Tuesday press conference before the 2022 Open Championship begins at St. Andrew’s in Scotland on Thursday.
“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.”
Woods, a three-time Open champion who has not competed in a PGA Tour event since withdrawing from the 2022 PGA Championship in May, expressed concern for the development of young players, citing the format of LIV tournaments. He also worried that LIV players might be banned from future Majors.
LIV Golf is not yet recognized by the Official World Golf Ranking, so players do not receive world points towards the rankings at any LIV tournaments.
“Who knows what’s going to happen in the near future with world-ranking points, the criteria for entering major championships,” Woods said. “The governing body is going to have to figure that out.
“It would be sad to see some of these young kids never get a chance to experience it and experience what we’ve got a chance to experience and walk these hallowed grounds and play in these championships,” Woods continued.
“I know what the PGA Tour stands for and what we have done and what the tour has given us, the ability to chase after our careers and to earn what we get and the trophies we have been able to play for and the history that has been a part of this game,” Woods added.
Several high-profile players, including former Major champions Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, and Brooks Koepka, received guaranteed deals worth more than $100 million to join LIV Golf.
Charl Schwartzel won the inaugural LIV golf tournament held outside of London in May and received $4.75 million in prize money — $4 million for winning the individual contest and an additional $750,000 share from a $3-million pool for the team competition.
Schwartzel’s prize money was nearly three times as much as he netted when he won the Masters in 2011, and more than twice as much as Justin Thomas received for winning the PGA Championship in May.
Despite calls to ban LIV players from major competitions, LIV Series golfers remain eligible to compete in the Open Championship beginning on Thursday.
However, The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) did ban Greg Norman, the CEO of LIV Golf, from all Open Championship events, including both the Celebration of Champions event and the Champions’ Dinner. Norman won the Open Championship in 1986 and 1993.
Woods supports the R&A’s decision to ban Norman.
“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.”
Rory McIlroy, a past vocal critic of LIV, also supports the R&A’s decision not to allow Norman to be present.
“I think the focus would have been taken away a little bit if [Norman had] been there,” McIlroy said. “… Because of everything that’s happening in the golf world, I think it was the right decision to be made. But if things change in the future, or whatever happens, who knows, but I could see a day where he’s certainly welcome back.”
When asked who he hopes wins the Open Championship, McIlroy responded that he “selfishly” hopes it will not be a player from LIV.
“But at the end of the day, everyone that’s here has the same opportunity to go out there and try to win a Claret Jug, regardless of what Tour they play on or whatever that is,” added McIlroy.
In total, 23 golfers who joined LIV will be competing in the Open Championship this weekend. Headlining them are DeChambeau, Johnson, Koepka, and Mickelson.