Golf’s Saudi rebel tour accuse Tiger Woods of attacking ‘younger golfers’ and ‘doing the PGA Tour’s bidding’, lawsuit documents reveal, after he rejected LIV Golf’s $800MILLION offer to ‘turn his back’ and join them
- 11 LIV Golf players filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour on August 3
- The golfers were suspended by the Tour after joining the Saud-backed series
- Court documents revealed Tiger Woods was accused of being a mouthpiece
- Woods spoke out against LIV Golf ahead oft he 150th Open at St Andrews in July
LIV Golf accused the PGA Tour of getting Tiger Woods to ‘publicly criticize’ players for joining the Saudi-backed breakaway.
The accusations were made in court documents submitted initially by 11 LIV Golf rebels, though Carlos Ortiz has since withdrawn his name, as part of an antitrust lawsuit filed against the PGA Tour last week.
The 10 remaining players, including Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Ian Poulter, were suspended by the PGA Tour for joining the controversial LIV Golf Series and have claimed they are being punished for playing in the breakaway’s tournaments.
In the lawsuit, filed August 3, the plaintiffs accused the PGA Tour of getting the 46-year-old to ‘do its bidding’ by publicly attacking his fellow professionals.
It read: ‘The Tour also got Tiger Woods to do its bidding and publicly criticize golfers— particularly younger golfers—for joining LIV Golf by suggesting they would never play in The Masters, The Open, or other Majors and would not earn OWGR points.’
The 15-time major champion spoke out against LIV Golf ahead of the 150th Open at St Andrews in July as he savaged the Saudi rebels for ‘turning their back’ on the sport.
‘I disagree with those who have gone to LIV, I think they have turned their back on what allowed them to get to this position,’ he began. ‘Some players have never had a chance to even experience playing on one of the tours.
‘They have gone right from the amateur ranks to that organization and never really had a chance to feel what it is like to play a schedule or play in big events.
LIV Golf seemingly accused Tiger Woods (above) of acting as a mouthpiece for the PGA Tour
Phil Mickelson (left) and Bryson DeChambeau (right) are among 11 LIV Golf players to file an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour after being suspended for joining the breakaway series
‘Some of these players may never even get a chance to play in major championships. That is a possibility. They will never get a chance to experience this right here. Walk down the fairways at Augusta National.
‘I don’t understand it. What these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practice? What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt?
‘You are just getting paid a lot of money up front and playing a few events and playing 54 holes.
‘They are playing blaring music. I can understand 54 holes for the Senior Tour. The guys are older and a little more banged up. When you are young, 72-hole tests are part of it. We used to have 36-hole play-offs for majors.
Woods has been the most high profile players to speak out against the Saudi-funded series
‘I just don’t see how this is positive in the long term. It would be sad to see some of these young kids never get a chance to walk these hallowed grounds and play in these majors.’
The defectors’ lawsuit claimed that Wood’s comments ‘echoed earlier evidence indicating that the Tour was continuing to pressure the Majors to join the Tour’s unlawful group boycott to exclude LIV Golf and punish any players who played in any LIV events.’
Organizers of the Masters Tournament were also accused of aligning themselves with the PGA Tour and seeding doubt among professionals that they would be barred from future major tournaments at Augusta National for joining LIV Golf.
‘Augusta National, the promoter of The Masters, has taken multiple actions to indicate its alignment with the PGA Tour, thus seeding doubt among top professional golfers whether they would be banned from future Masters Tournaments,’ read the lawsuit.
The antitrust lawsuit also claimed that Augusta National officials (pictured chairman Fred Ridley) had seeded doubt among defectors that they would not be allowed to play the Masters
‘As an initial matter, the links between the PGA Tour and Augusta National run deep. The actions by Augusta National indicate that the PGA Tour has used these channels to pressure Augusta National to do its bidding.
‘For example, in February, 2022 Augusta National representatives threatened to disinvite players from The Masters if they joined LIV Golf.’
Greg Norman, CEO of the breakaway series, revealed LIV Golf attempted to snatch up Woods with a mega-money offer.
Norman, a two-time major champion, appeared on Fox News‘ Tucker Carlson Show last week and hit back at the rival tour as he accused the PGA Tour of continuing to take sponsorship money from Saudi backers.
When Carlson asked if the $700-800million offer to Woods he had seen floated around was correct, Norman confirmed the figure was ‘somewhere in that neighborhood’.
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman (left) revealed they tried to snatch up Woods with a massive offer
‘That number was out there before I became CEO,’ Norman admitted. ‘That number has been out there, yes.
‘Tiger is a needle mover. So course you got to look at the best of the best. The originally approached tiger before I became CEO so yes, that number is somewhere in that neighborhood.’
However, Woods was not tempted into turning his back on the PGA Tour and when speaking at St Andrews last month, he was as equally scathing of Norman as he was the series, calling the Australian out directly.
‘I know what the PGA Tour stands for, what it has given us: the ability to chase after our careers, the trophies we play for and to earn what we get and the history that has been part of this game,’ he said.
Norman confirmed 2019 Masters champion Tiger Woods was offered $700-800million to join
‘I know Greg tried to do what he is doing now back in the early Nineties. It didn’t work then and he is trying to make it work now. I still don’t see how that is in the game’s best interests.
‘All the governing bodies, the PGA Tour, the European Tour, all the majors — we all see it differently to Greg.’
Three of the plaintiffs, Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford, sought a temporary restraining order to be able to play in the Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs this week.
However, the trio were unsuccessful in their attempt Tuesday as a federal judge for the Northern District of California upheld the PGA Tour’s ruling that Gooch, Jones, and Swafford could not compete in the events.
Concerned WhatsApp messages from Spanish professional Sergio Garcia, who also jumped ship to join LIV Golf, were revealed as part of the lawsuit.
Messages between Sergio Garcia (left) and LIV Golf CEO Norman (right) have been revealed
The 2017 Masters champion’s messages to Norman stated that some stars were ‘s****ing their pants’ over the threat of suspension from the PGA Tour over joining LIV Golf.
‘I just wanted to see how things are going with the League, cause it seems like a lot of those guys that were loving it and excited about it last week, now are s****ing in their pants,’ Garcia’s message read on February 11, as revealed by Golf Magazine.
Norman replied: ‘Morning. All going very well. I have not heard the white noise of s****ing their pants. Who are you referencing so I can run a check?’
Garcia expressed his fear that some of the ‘younger’ players were successfully ‘scared’ by the PGA Tour.
‘If you have names I can reach out to them,’ Norman said in response.
Garcia stated that some stars were ‘s****ing their pants’ over being banned from the PGA Tour
‘In regards to the Tour if they were going to ban players they would have already. They know they cannot hence no action outside of verbal threats. If you can get them or any player threatened to get it [in writing] fantastic. Thanks.’
His message read: ‘It’s official. Tour has told our managers this week that whoever signs with the League, is ban[ned] from the Tour for life! I don’t know how are we gonna get enough good players to join the League under [these] conditions. What do you think.’
But chief Norman was not worried and reassured Garcia that the PGA Tour could not inflict that punishment.
‘They cannot ban you for one day let alone life,’ he responded. ‘It is a shallow threat. Ask them to put it in writing to you or any player. I bet they don’t. Happy for anyone to speak with our legal team to better understand they have no chance of enforcing.
Whatsapp messages have been uncovered in lawsuit, filed by 11 LIV Golf defectors. Norman reassured Garcia that the PGA Tour could not ban them
‘Who said there would be a lifetime ban? And to whom? You? Or your agent? What are they saying specifically? Important to know these facts. Also I will get something to show you why they cannot.’
Garcia explained where the threat came from and expressed his doubt over being able to get it in writing.
‘The commissioner had a meeting with the 5 or 6 biggest agencies of golf managers, mine included, and first told them that if any of their players had signed with the [LIV] league, that they should leave the room and after that they talked about what the [PGA Tour] is going to do going forward and that whoever signs with [LIV] they would be [banned] from the [PGA Tour] for life. I would love to get it in writing but I doubt they will do that,’ the Spaniard wrote back.
Despite Norman’s reassurances, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan issued a memo to all members 30 minutes after the first tee shots at the inaugural LIV Golf event were hit, informing them players who participated in the tournament in St Albans, UK had been suspended.
A bombshell letter from the PGA Tour announced that all defecting members to rebel Saudi Invitational series have been suspended, in a huge shake-up for golf’s biggest names