Tiger Woods turned down ‘high nine digits’ to join Saudi-backed golf series

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Tiger Woods said he has a ‘different’ opinion to Phil Mickelson  (Getty Images)
Tiger Woods said he has a ‘different’ opinion to Phil Mickelson (Getty Images)

Tiger Woods turned down a multi-million dollar offer to play in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, according to the breakaway tournament’s chief executive Greg Norman.

Woods pledged his loyalty to the PGA Tour amid the advances of the controversial series of tournaments, which gets underway with the LIV Golf London event at Centurion Club this weekend.

The 15-time major champion, who has returned to competitive play following a near-fatal car crash last year but struggled at the recent PGA Championship, said he believes in “big events” and called the Saudi-backed series “polarising” in the game.

Several leading players, including Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, have been included on the 48-player entry list at Centurion Club. Individual events carry a $25m prize fund but the PGA Tour have warned that players who compete in the series will be fined and could face legal action.

Mickelson has confirmed he will end his four-month break from the sport by playing in the opening event, following the backlash that met his explosive comments on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and the PGA Tour in February.

Speaking last month, amid the absence of defending champion Mickelson at the PGA Championship, Woods said he had a “very different” opinion to the six-time major champion and his great rival.

But despite Woods’ opposition to the event, Norman has revealed that an attempt was still made to try and lure the 46-year-old to join the entry list. The Australian told the Washington Post: “Woods turned down a deal that was mind-blowingly enormous: we’re talking about nine digits.”

Other star players such as Rory McIlroy and Open champion Collin Morikawa have also turned down the approaches of LIV Golf, but that has not stopped former European Ryder Cup favourites Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood from splitting.

“What we are seeing right now in society, it’s very bipolar,” Woods said ahead of the PGA Championship last month, when discussing Mickelson’s absence and the looming LIV series. “There’s really no middle ground, you stand one way or the other. It’s very polarising.

“And the viewpoints that Phil has made with the tour and what the tour has meant to all of us has been polarising as well. I don’t know if he has to resolve it or not. He has his opinion on where he sees the game of golf going. I have my viewpoint how I see the game of golf.

“I understand different viewpoints, but I believe in legacies. I believe in major championships. I believe in big events, comparisons to historical figures of the past. There’s plenty of money out here.

“The tour is growing. But it’s just like any other sport. You have to go out there and earn it. It’s just not guaranteed (money) up front.”

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