Tiger Woods has echoed Rory McIlroy’s call for Greg Norman to quit as LIV Golf CEO to allow a settlement to be negotiated in golf’s civil war.
McIlroy and Woods have been the biggest supporters of the established tours in their battle with the Saudi-funded breakaway, but McIlroy recently called for a compromise to be reached between the rival factions.
The world number one feels that will be impossible if Norman remains at the helm of LIV Golf and Woods made it abundantly clear he feels the same way as he praised McIlroy for being a “true leader”.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Hero World Challenge, Woods said: “There is an opportunity out there if both organisations put a stay on their litigation. That’s the problem.
“There is no willingness to negotiate if you have litigation against you. I think Greg has to go first of all.
“It has to start with leadership on their side, understanding that what is happening right now is not the best future for the whole game of golf.
“You need to have the two bodies come together and if one side has so much animosity, trying to destroy our tour, then how do you work with that?
“There is a window of opportunity for us from both tours to figure this out but I think that window’s closing just because the majors are coming up now and they’re going to have their own criteria, but again that goes back to LIV and their lawsuit.
“They’re suing us first and we countersued them. They have to back off the table, then we’ll back off the table and then we have a place to talk, but their leadership has to change as well.
“If that doesn’t then I think it’s going to continue going down the path that it’s going right now.”
Asked to sum up an unprecedented year in men’s professional golf, Woods added: “This whole year is a year we didn’t expect to have happen, for the animosity, the angst and then the players leaving and then the way they showed their disregard or disrespect to the Tour that helped them get to that point.
“There’s a lot of things I certainly don’t like about it and there’s certain players that are very upfront with it and have declared it and I respect them for that, but there’s also a flipside to that too that I thought was a little on the tasteless side.”
Woods had intended to play this week but withdrew on Monday due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot and said he had undergone “a couple of surgeries” this year as a result of returning to action following a life-threatening car accident in February 2021.
The 15-time major winner, who declined to reveal any details on the procedures, has not played since the 150th Open Championship in July, when he missed the cut.
“I had a few setbacks during the year that I was able to play through, but this one I can’t,” added Woods, who said he tested negative for Covid-19 at St Andrews after McIlroy revealed at the weekend he feared he had passed the virus to his friend.
“I was walking more and more trying to get my legs ready for this week and I was just making it worse. I can hit the golf ball and hit whatever shot you want, I just can’t walk. Only time can heal this one.”
Woods still plans to partner McIlroy in The Match against Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas on December 10 and contest the PNC Championship with son Charlie the following week, but will be allowed to use a golf cart in both and reiterated he would never do so in a regular PGA Tour event.
As for next year, the 46-year-old added: “The goal is to play just the major championships and maybe one or two more. That’s it. I don’t have much left in this leg.
“I didn’t expect to play three majors this year. We were hoping for just the British Open, but I was able to get two more in there, so that was a big positive.”
In a wide-ranging press conference, Woods also agreed with Jon Rahm’s criticism of the world rankings after the RSM Classic gave 37 points to the winner despite having no players inside the world’s top 25, while the DP World Tour Championship had seven of the top 25 but just 21.8 points.
“It’s a flawed system. That’s something we all here recognise,” Woods said.
“How do you fix it? Those are meetings we’re going to have to have, somehow come up with a better system than is in place now. I remember when I had a big lead in my career, I didn’t have to play a single tournament the next year and I still would be ranked number one.
“We changed that system then. So it has been changed in the past and I’m sure this will be changed hopefully soon.”