The Kingdom couldn’t buy Tiger.
Golf superstar Tiger Woods turned down the staggering sum of nearly $800 million to play in the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series, according to the tour’s CEO, Greg Norman. While it was known the tour made a strong bid for Woods, the figure emerged in an interview with Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson Monday night.
“Look, Tiger is a needle mover, right?” Norman said. “So, of course you’ve got to look at the best of the best. They had originally approached Tiger before I became CEO. That number is somewhere in that [$700-800 million] neighborhood.”
“The PGA Tour has 27 sponsors who do $40 billion worth of business in Saudi Arabia on an annual basis.”#LIVGolf Chairman Greg Norman exposes the PGA Tour’s hypocrisy in interview on Tucker Carlson. pic.twitter.com/jMkLPHKsWf
— LIV Golf Nation (@LIVGolfNation) August 2, 2022
The tour has spent nine-figure sums luring PGA stars like Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, and others to play in its pro series. In addition to dangling huge purses for match competitions, the new tour is offering signing fees, including a reported $125 million to Johnson, and likely more for Mickelson. The PGA has tried to stop the exodus, and made clear players who defect won’t necessarily be welcome back.
The 15-time major champion Woods has not been the same since a devastating automobile accident, but his popularity still would have made him the upstart tour’s biggest prize. Woods said prior to last month’s British Open that he doesn’t support players joining the LIV Series and compared the circuit to the senior Champions Tour.
“I think that what they’ve done is they’ve turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position,” Woods said.
The LIV Golf Invitational Series was launched this year through a $300 million investment in the Asian Tour. Earlier this week, LIV Golf rolled out plans to expand in 2023 to 14 events, with 48 golfers competing for an unprecedented $405 million in purses.
Former President Trump hosted a LIV tournament at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, last week and has been a supporter of the tour despite criticism from 9/11 families and other critics of the Kingdom’s abysmal human rights record.
“I think LIV has been a great thing for Saudi Arabia, for the image of Saudi Arabia,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal. “I think it’s going to be an incredible investment from that standpoint, and that’s more valuable than lots of other things because you can’t buy that — even with billions of dollars.”