First, Greg Norman said Tiger Woods was offered nearly a billion dollars to join LIV Golf. Then, the LIV Golf CEO walked back that claim, saying the offer was a summation of potential value based on part ownership of a LIV franchise.
Now, in a report from The New Yorker, Saudi Golf Federation CEO Majed Al Sorour further clarified the alleged offer.
“It’s not straight-out money. I never offered him that money, not even close to that,” Sorour told reporter Zach Helfand. Included in that compensation would have been equity in the league and a cut of sponsorship deals.
That’s more in line with Norman’s comments from late August, when he denied his own claim Woods was offered between $700 and $800 million to join the breakaway league.
“That’s how it is,” Norman told Fox Sports Australia. “It’s not the cash value. We never offered that cash value to Tiger Woods. That’s the reality of it.”
In The New Yorker report, Sorour said the Saudi Public Investment Fund funded LIV through 2025 and the franchise model is how LIV plans on seeing a return on the investment. But many players, including Rory McIlroy, are skeptical of the numbers floated for each team, given LIV has yet to secure any outside sponsors or a U.S. television deal.
“People have to remember, golf is a niche sport,” McIlroy told The New Yorker of LIV’s business plan. “All you’re getting is four golfers. And I get it, some MLS teams are worth $700 million. But it’s all tied to the economics of the league, and right now that league doesn’t have any economics.”
“That number was out there before I became CEO, and that number’s been out there, yes,” Norman said. “Tiger’s a needle-mover, right? Of course, you’ve got to look at the best of the best.”
The number would have dwarfed other reported values of LIV contracts. Phil Mickelson is rumored to have gotten around $200 million for a signing bonus while Dustin Johnson reportedly received $125 million.
For his part, Woods has not commented publicly on any deal he was offered by LIV Golf and has repeatedly affirmed his commitment to the PGA Tour while condemning the upstart tour.
“As far as … the players who have chosen to go to LIV and to play there, I disagree with it,” Woods said at the Open Championship. “I think that what they’ve done is they’ve turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position.
“I just don’t see how that move is positive in the long term for a lot of these players, especially if the LIV organization doesn’t get world-ranking points and the major championships change their criteria for entering the events. It would be sad to see some of these young kids never get a chance to experience it and experience what we’ve got a chance to experience and walk these hallowed grounds and play in these championships.”
Woods and McIlroy were the organizers of a players meeting in Delaware the week of the BMW Championship where sweeping changes were discussed to the PGA Tour’s schedule, structure and model. Those changes were announced by PGA Tour commisioner Jay Monahan the following week.