Tiger Woods has joined Rory McIlroy in calling on Greg Norman to step down as LIV Golf Tour boss.
Woods believes it is possible for the PGA Tour to negotiate a settlement with the Saudi-funded LIV Tour, but only if Norman steps aside.
Earlier this month, McIlroy said the former Australian world number one had to “leave the stage on the left”.
Speaking ahead of this week’s Hero World Challenge, Woods asked LIV to suspend its legal action against the PGA Tour.
“I think Greg has to go, first of all,” Woods, 46, said. “And then obviously the litigation against us, and then our counter-suit against them, those should then also be stayed.
“So we can talk, we can all talk freely.”
Woods accused the LIV Tour of sparking “animosity” after recruiting several big names – including Open champion Cameron Smith and other big winners such as Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka – with a signing fee important.
LIV promises a 14-tournament super league next year, using its starting 54-hole format, which features 48-man pitches.
“There’s a lot of animosity, especially from their leadership,” said Woods, who tied Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins before injuries ended his playing career.
“And they want to be a validated tour with world ranking points and they buy tours around the world and I don’t know what their endgame is.
“It could be just being an official member of the golf ecosystem and being recognized with world ranking points. I think that’s their goal.
“You know, they’ve probably spent close to $2 billion this year. Who’s to say they can’t spend $4 billion or $5 billion next year? We just don’t know. It’s a chasm endless money.
“But it doesn’t necessarily create legacies either. You want to compare yourself to [Ben] Hogan, you wanna compare yourself to Snead, you wanna compare yourself to [Jack] Nicklaus, you can’t do it there, but you can do it on this Tour.”
In Dubai two weeks ago, McIlroy said Norman had to step down as commissioner and chief executive if there was to be peace between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. “Nobody will talk if there is no adult in the room,” said the current world number one.
It has been reported that LIV is lining up Mark King, the former boss of golf manufacturer Taylormade, to replace Norman, but this has been strenuously denied.
LIV Golf chief executive Majed Al-Sorour said in response to the Daily Telegraph report: “Greg Norman is our CEO and commissioner. Any suggestion that changes are being made to Greg’s title or role is patently false. “
Woods says it’s impossible for the two organizations to coexist in the current setup. “Not with their leadership, not with Greg there and his animosity towards the tour itself,” he said.
“I don’t see that happening. As Rory has said – and I’ve said too – I think Greg needs to go and then we can hopefully eventually stay between the two lawsuits and work out a solution.
“But why would you change anything if you have a lawsuit against you? They sued us first.”
LIV launched its anti-trust lawsuit against the US-based Tour after players who joined the breakaway roster were indefinitely suspended from the PGA Tour. A trial date has been set for January 2024.
A counter-suit has been launched by the PGA Tour and there is a separate legal proceeding between LIV and the Europe-based DP World Tour, which will be heard in February next year.
“I think it has to start with the leadership on their side,” Woods added. “Understanding that what is happening right now is not the best solution for the future of golf as a whole.
“Now what’s the best way for our game to grow? It’s not like that. But okay, you have to bring the two bodies together. If one side has so much animosity, someone tries to destroy our tour, so how do you work with that?”
“Charlie will hit all the shots”
Woods also revealed he had two surgeries this year on his right leg which he badly injured in a car accident in February 2021.
Declining to give details, he admitted the damage he sustained contributed to the plantar fasciitis that forced him to withdraw from this week’s tournament. He hasn’t played since missing the St Andrews Open cut last July.
Woods still plans to play with his son Charlie at the PNC Championship in Florida next month, when he can ride a buggy, and at The Match on Dec. 10, when he partners McIlroy against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
“Father-Son will be a very easy week,” said the former world number one. “Charlie is just going to hit all the shots and I’m just going to knock the putts out of the hole, so it’s pretty easy there.”
As for a return to competitive golf, Woods reiterated that he will play sparingly going forward. “The goal is to only play the big championships and maybe one or two more, physically that’s all I can do,” he said.
“I don’t have much left in this leg so get ready for the bigger ones and hopefully, you know, lightning strikes in a bottle and I’m up there in contention with a chance to win and I hope I remember how to do this.”