Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s thoughts on LIV stars at The Masters as exception made

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods both once were unwilling to budge on their stance against LIV Golf but have since softened their stance, encouraging their players to take part in majors

 

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods changed their mindset towards LIV Golf most positively

 

Both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s once harsh views of LIV Golf and its players participating in major tournaments have dramatically shifted as talks of a PGA Tour – LIV Golf merger continue to progress.

 

The issue has arisen again with Joaquin Niemann handed a spot at The Masters. He has received an invite from organisers despite not being an automatic qualifier after joining LIV Golf and seeing his world ranking plummet.

 

Woods previously said he was unsure on how he’d feel coming up against LIV Golf stars at The Masters last year, suggesting he was uneasy with their participation after leaving the PGA Tour. He said last year: “I don’t know because I haven’t been around them. Some of the players out here have. For instance, Rory’s in Dubai with some of those players.

 

“I don’t know, I don’t know what that reaction’s 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 months away.”

 

McIlroy, meanwhile, suggested at the time that The Masters and other majors should be “above all the noise” of the LIV Golf debate. He said in 2023: “Look, it’s a narrative and a storyline, but the Masters and the four major championships sit above all that noise, and that’s the way it should be this week.”

 

Since those comments, their stance has softened even further and both Woods and McIlroy, two of the PGA Tour’s staunchest defenders, have opened up more to LIV Golf players being able to participate in PGA Tour events. 15-time major tournament winner Woods is a member of the PGA Tour board of directors. He recently expressed his support for the merger between the two organizations.

 

“Ultimately, we would like to have PIF be a part of our tour and our product,” said Woods. “Financially, we don’t right now, and the money that they have come to the table with and what we initially had agreed to in the framework agreement, those are all the same numbers. Anything beyond this is going to be obviously over and above.”

 

McIlroy and Woods are in favor of LIV golfers participating in majors

 

The process of merging has encountered various obstacles over power and control. The US government has intervened in the matter and requested details from both parties regarding their plans for operating as a union. This is due to Saudi Arabia facing allegations regarding the violation of human rights.

 

Woods was previously among several golfers shocked and caught off guard by the initial merger announcement. He stood in solidarity with PGA players, saying the move could not happen behind players’ backs.

 

Woods referenced Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer’s roles in forming the PGA Tour. He noted that the top players in the world need to continue the league’s tradition of being the best and that going to LIV only risks the top players from participating in future major tournaments.

 

Woods’ change of heart on the merger after McIlroy echoed similar sentiments in January. The Irish golf star suggested that he judged LIV based on the opinions of others without making an assessment himself.

 

“I think at this point, I was maybe a little judgmental of the guys who went to LIV Golf at the start, and I think it was a bit of a mistake on my part because I now realize that not everyone is in my position or in Tiger Woods’ position,” said McIlroy.

 

“We all turn professionals to make a living playing the sports that we do, and I think that’s what I realized over the last two years. I can’t judge people for making that decision, so if I regret anything, it was probably being too judgmental at the start.”

 

Beyond a change of mindset toward the organization, McIlory already mapped out a plan to bring the PGA and LIV together with a “Champions League-style format.” He suggested having a single international tour of the top 80 players in the world could be the solution to fix the underlying divide between both brands.

Tiger Woods provides rare merger update and outlines PGA Tour plans to welcome back LIV Golf stars

 

 

Gideon Canice

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