The five-time Green Jacket winner admitted that the past year on the PGA Tour had been 'difficult' since the emergence of Greg Norman's breakaway league – and singled out praise for one player in particular

Tiger Woods was asked to ponder the tension that LIV Golf players could bring to the Masters in April.

Speaking at the Genesis Invitational, he admitted the Champions Dinner will likely be a much-talked-about event and a very possible source of awkwardness.

Since the emergence of the Saudi-backed series, which soon begins its second season, Woods has only crossed paths with rebel players in a competitive context at the 150th Open Championship last July.

The 15-time major champion described the last 12 months as ‘turbulent’ and ‘difficult’ as a number of the PGA Tour’s most recognisable players jumped ship for lucrative contract fees offered by LIV.

Making his first non-major appearance on the Tour since 2020 at Riviera Country Club, Woods outlined the importance of the dinner at Augusta National to Scottie Scheffler, but he made no promises on how he would behave when in the presence of LIV Golf players.

“I don’t know because I haven’t been around them,” Woods said. “Some of the players out here have – for instance, Rory was in Dubai with some of those players.

“I don’t know what that reaction is going to be. I know that some of our friendships have certainly taken a different path, but we’ll see when all that transpires. That is still a couple of months away.

“The Champions Dinner is obviously going to be something that is talked about. We as a whole need to honour Scottie.

“Scottie is the winner, it’s his dinner and so making sure that Scottie is honoured correctly, but also realising the nature of what has transpired and the people who have left and just where our situations are either legally or emotionally. There’s a lot there.”

tiger woods

Golf fans were pleasantly surprised by Woods’ commitment to the third elevated event of the season. The 47-year-old revealed in his press conference that the main injury issue lies with his right ankle and no longer his leg, following his car accident in February 2021.

The plantar fasciitis is less of an problem than when he withdrew from the Hero World Challenge in December, but he re-asserted his schedule is still limited to the majors and “maybe a couple more.”

Woods and Rory McIlroy have emerged as player-leaders on the PGA Tour since they held a meeting at the BMW Championship in August 2022, where the future of the circuit was masterminded.

We now see a revamped schedule with 13 elevated events, more prize money and the best players promising to compete against each other on a regular basis.

But at what cost? Woods recognised the toll that the hostility with LIV Golf has taken on players such as McIlroy, who recently revealed he was served a subpoena on Christmas eve by Patrick Reed’s legal team.

Much has changed since the circuit was last at Riviera, even the defending champion Joaquin Niemann is now in Greg Norman’s ranks. Woods maintained that the Tour will plug away and continue to improve.

“How can I say – if you go back to this week at the Genesis last year to where it’s at now, we all have to say it’s been very turbulent,” he added.

“We never would have expected the game of golf to be in this situation, but it is – that’s reality.

“And we’re also trying to create the best product, obviously they’re a competitive organisation trying to create the best product that they possibly can and we’re trying to create the best product that we possibly can.

“How do we do that? We’re still working on that and we have so many of the top players that are aligned and how do we support our world partners and the DP World Tour.

“We need to have our top players understand that we need to play around the world and again, create the best product possible.

“It’s been ebb and flow. I mean it really has been difficult there’s no lie. You’ve seen our ambassador Rory go through it.

“It’s been tough on him – for him to go out there and play and win. It’s been incredible.”

Woods made it clear that he won’t play at the 2023 Genesis Invitational to participate, but to win which would take him to a record of 83 trophies on the circuit.

Prior to his arrival at the event he hosts, he visited Los Angeles Country Club, the 2023 US Open venue, which gives you a clear idea of his plans this season.

Can Tiger Woods win the Genesis Invitational this week?! Tweet me and let me know!

Matt Chivers

Tour Editor

Matt is NCG's man for all things going on in the world of tour golf. Kent born and bred, Matt is 7 handicap at Royal Cinque Ports and spent many years caddying at Royal St George's before moving north to study history at the University of Liverpool. Away from golf, Matt is an avid Arsenal fan and horse racing enthusiast. He is also keen to point out his surname is pronounced Chiv-ers, not Chive-ers.

Handicap: 7

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