Even at 44 Tiger Woods is still the No. 1 target for the Premier Golf League – and it turns out he has been in conversations with the rival tour
A lot has happened in the golf world since we last heard from Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines towards the end of January so there was plenty to go at in his pre-tournament press conference at Riviera.
What about the Premier Golf League that has been mooted in recent weeks as a future breakaway circuit to the PGA Tour as early as 2022? From what we know it could include 10-18 smaller-field events, huge bundles of money and a possible team format and it has done enough to trigger messages to the player from both the bosses of the PGA and European Tours.
And Woods, who would still be the most influential target, was as revealing as he was non-committal.
“Have I been personally approached? Yes, and my team’s been aware of it and we’ve delved into the details of it and trying to figure it out, just like everyone else,” Woods said. “There’s a lot of information that we’re still looking at, and whether it’s reality or not, but just like everybody else, we’re looking into it.
“We’ve been down this road before with World Golf Championships and other events being started or other Tours wanting to evolve. It’s one of the reasons why we instituted the World Golf Championships because we were only getting together about five times a year – the four majors and the Players and we wanted to showcase the top players on more than just those occasions.
“And so this is a natural evolution, whether or not things like this are going to happen. But ideas like this are going to happen going forward, whether it’s now or any other time in the future.”
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As for the recent distant report Woods was equally open to the possibility of bifurcation (the pros playing different equipment to the rest of us) but that, like everyone else, he didn’t see it happening anytime soon.
“It’s on the table, whether we bifurcate or not. It’s only one per cent of guys or women that are going to be using that type of equipment. But we want to keep the game enjoyable, we want to keep having more kids want to come play it,” Woods added.
“Part of the discussion going forward is do we bifurcate or not. That’s, you know, it’s not going to be probably even well after my career and playing days, that we will figure that out.”
Woods’ first win in 1996 came at a time when his play-off opponent David Love III was still using a persimmon driver, shortly after Augusta was being Tiger-proofed after he tore the place to pieces with that 12-shot victory in 1997.
Twenty-plus years later he is also seeing things as a course designer. Cue more balanced opinions.
“We’re running out of property to try and design golf courses that are, from the back, 7,800 to 8,000 yards. It’s difficult. But on top of that, we want to keep the game enjoyable and we’re trying to get more participation. And having larger heads, more forgiving clubs, it adds to the enjoyment of the game. So there’s a very delicate balancing act where we’re trying to keep the game at, but also as we’ve all recognised, the players have changed over the years, too.”
One final addendum was that he was unsure that he would repeat his Presidents Cup captaincy which, if you were trying to read between the lines, you would be guessing that Royal Melbourne was a one-off deal.