When LIV Golf merged with the PGA and World Golf Tours this week, it marked the end of a short but significant era in the game. Despite traditions like the emerald fairways of St. Andrews and the 12th hole at Augusta, there was a new gangster on the green. One who had a lot of money and power.
With the Saudi Improvement Fund diving headfirst into the world of sports, golf was an instant target. The Middle East has always long been known as a destination during the year, and the payouts were handsome. When LIV launched, elite players were quick to take the money and run, despite facing the proposition of never playing in The Open or wearing The Green Jacket ever again.
It was a messy divorce for some, who were often criticized as not only traitors to the Pro Golfer’s Association but to the Free World, as well. Saudi Arabia, under the regime of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been criticized for their human rights record. Much of that stems from the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as the fact that several Saudi nationals were involved in the 9/11 attacks of 2001.
The Saudi government, as well as MBS, have both denied direct involvement by the nation’s leadership. And the Middle Eastern power remains a military and economic ally of the United States. Despite this, many North American fans are very upset that the PGA decided to partner up with what many perceive as a ruthless aggressor.
Caught in the middle of this firestorm were the PGA golfers who had to make a decision to take the cash, or stay home and stay loyal. Golf’s biggest name, Tiger Woods, was one of those who decided the jump to the new league wasn’t worth it. And while reports at the time said the deal was around $650 million, now experts believe that Eldrick’s deal would have been worth closer to a billion.
“The stance takers lose here…Tiger Woods, who never took a stand in his life, just lost a billion dollars for taking one.” – Dan
We discuss the LIV Golf & PGA Tour merger.
— Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz (@LeBatardShow) June 7, 2023
As one of the sporting world’s most recognizable and (for some) polarizing figures, it put the former world’s number one player in an odd position: For once, he didn’t cash in huge based on his fame and endorsement potential. It may be the first huge business error he’s made in a storied career. For the most part, he’s been a juggernaut in terms of earnings and endorsements.
Not this time. And ever since the news of the merger went through, his detractors certainly had a field day with his financial faux pas.
When the two competitors finally came together, there several social media comedians were quick to quip at Woods’ expense. And when you are America’s richest athlete? It’s to be expected.
In the end, standing on principle ended up costing profit for Woods. And the same people who once applauded him for refusing to support the Saudi golf endeavor make it look to the fans like the PGA has betrayed him. While he stood his ground, the sport’s sanctioning body was quick to cozy up to MBS and his vision.
In the end, Woods won’t starve to death or will still be able to pay his light bill Forbes estimates that the 47-year-old golfer has achieved a net wealth of over one billion dollars for the first time in early 2023.