Tiger Woods crosses the Swilcan Bridge on the 18th hole at St. Andrews during the Open Championship.
Curtis Strange was talking about the PGA Tour and LIV Golf and LIV Golf’s lawsuit against the PGA Tour when Tiger Woods came up. And a thought on the 15-time major champ summed up most of Strange’s thoughts on the topic du jour rather efficiently.
Strange, himself a two-time major winner and now an analyst, had watched Woods earlier this year at the Masters. He listened too. Strange said he heard Woods talk about his legacy. He said he heard Woods say he was full of gratitude to be able to play in what was his first event since his car crash.
And LIV players?
“They’ve turned their back on a Tiger Woods when you think about it,” Strange said Friday in an interview on the Starter with Taylor Zarzour show on SiriusXM radio.
“It’s just annoying that the game that not only do I respect and love so much, it’s the players that came before me and who paved the way. I just think we owe them more than this.”
Strange’s comments come days after 11 LIV golfers filed an antitrust suit this week against the Tour, alleging it is acting unlawfully in the suspensions it has levied against its members who have left to play in the upstart league. The group of 11 seeks to have their suspensions overturned and their playing privileges reinstated, while a smaller group of three players — Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones — has petitioned the court to issue a temporary restraining order allowing their participation in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which begin next week.
The reaction to the moves from those who either played or continue to play on the Tour has been one of frustration, unsurprisingly. A day before on the Starter with Taylor Zarzour show, longtime pro Rocco Mediate opined that he was good with players leaving for LIV, but wasn’t with the idea of them returning, a thought shared by Joel Dahmen, Kevin Kisner, Davis Love III and others. And Strange said much the same on the show.
But also notable — and credit to Zarzour for asking (and you can listen to the entire show here with a subscription) — were Strange’s thoughts on both what the “end game” could be for LIV and its CEO, Greg Norman, and whether the competing tours could grow the game. Both answers tied into his comment on Woods, who, according to Norman, turned down $700 million to $800 million to join LIV.
On the end game question, Strange said he didn’t know for sure what that could look like, which actually does say a lot.
“I guess the end game would be to create an atmosphere to where they’re good people,” Strange said on the show. “Let’s not forget the bottom line on who the Saudis really are and what they do and how they run their country. But be that as it may, Norman comes from an emotional, vindictive attitude and history with the Tour. We know that. That’s all I really want to say about him.
“The end game, when you don’t need a return on your investment, which is going to be close to a billion dollars this year on the Saudi tour — when there’s no return on your investment, there’s just some big circus, eight or 10 times this year — I don’t know how many tournaments they really have — let me just say this: If they had such a great product and a tour, without paying appearance fees, would these guys be going? Hell no, because they don’t have the product. Fifty-four holes, shotgun start, three days, come on, give me a break. I want to play the same games that Hogan and Sneed and Nicklaus and Palmer played. I want to play the same courses. I want to play the same format. I want to play in the same tournaments to compare myself at the end of the day.
“And so it’s all about the money and we know that and that’s fair enough. But the end game for me is to be able to compare my game at the end of my life knowing full well I gave it the best I could. I can’t answer your question. I can’t answer your question. But I know that the end game for the PGA Tour is.”
But could that continue with tours splitting the world’s best players? Zarzour asked this question: “You have some of the best players playing on one league, and a few of the best players playing on the LIV Golf series. Are you concerned about the game growing forward with all of this going on?”
Strange was. In the immediate future, the hearing for the temporary restraining order will be next Tuesday, and the Tour’s playoffs begin next Thursday, while LIV does not play again until Labor Day weekend. But after that is largely unknown.
“I’m concerned about all of it, Taylor,” he said on the show. “If it becomes the Wild West, if it goes to court, and they win, then there’ll be no rules and regulations on where and when you can play. And then the Tour will become the Wild West. It will all be run by money, all appearance fees, and you know who suffers — the fans. The fans will suffer and the charities will suffer. And if that’s what Greg Norman his entourage want, I hope they’re happy. I can’t envision what would happen then. …
“And I just hate in my wildest dreams to envision what could happen here in the next year or so. I just can’t imagine. But anyway, the Tour might have to make a few changes. We’ve already made changes to purses and some prominent tournaments for top players. It annoys the hell out of me as well because we are growing, we continue to grow, we continue to grow to the smaller neighborhoods and more access to kids to play the game and we have the youngest major champions of all time, great kids, and there’s so much good going on in the game. And we just came out of Covid. And now we got to confront this.”
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