Highlights From Tiger's Hero Press Conference
Woods discusses his World Challenge WD, calls for Greg Norman to be fired, criticizes the OWGR, and discusses his year in the majors.
The Hero World Challenge’s traditional Tiger Woods presser yielded more insights than normal and a couple of odd mistakes. Seated alongside alongside Hero CEO Pawan Munjal at Albany, Woods left little doubt about his loyalty to the PGA Tour or how LIV Golf should handle his Jupiter neighbor, Greg Norman.
Woods withdrew Monday from the Hero citing plantar fasciitis and revealed he had two surgeries this year. He would not reveal the extent of those but two sources with knowledge of his physical issues say one of those surgeries took place very soon after his withdrawal from May’s PGA Championship and was related to the pain he experienced at Southern Hills.
Woods reiterated multiple times in the session that he can play golf while using a cart—to the relief of NBC and Turner executives—in the upcoming cart-friendly PNC Championship and The Match. Here are highlights of his half-hour media conversation in the Bahamas, starting with his latest injury issue.
On WD’ing this week: “I was ramping up and had to walk more, the worse it got. So when you get plantar fasciitis, that's the -- the worst thing you can do is walk, and I was walking more and more and more, trying to get my legs ready for this event, and I just kept making it worse. So had to shut it down and unfortunately, be the host of the event and Ranger Rick out here.”
On Rory McIlroy believing he might have given Woods COVID in advance of The Open: “I got tested. I was always negative. I was feeling under the weather, yes, wasn't feeling great the whole week, but I never got a positive test.”
On the state of the “golf ecosystem”: “I don't think any of us would have foreseen it being as complicated as it is and convoluted as it has become and the animosity from both sides. I don't think we would've seen that a year ago.”
On LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman: “Greg has to go, first of all, and then obviously litigation against us and then our countersuit against them, those would then have to be at a stay as well. So then we can talk, we can all talk freely.”
Asked if Phil Mickelson deserved an apology for efforts to get PGA Tour players paid more: “No, absolutely not, no. We took out an enormous loan during the pandemic in which that, if we had another year of the pandemic, our Tour would only be sustained for another year So we took out an enormous loan. It worked, it paid off in our benefit, hence we were able to use that money to make the increases that we've made.”
Note: the PGA Tour clarified this in a statement to Bob Harig of SI.com, infusing them with a glorious bit of MBAspeak I’ve not yet experienced to describe “laying off a bunch of older people to make it look like we’re saving the players money”:
On the world rankings as a way to qualify for majors going forward: “As of right now, we don't know where the major championships stand on this. So if you're a Tour player, you already know that you're in the major championships, you're in the top 50, so, okay, that's a guaranteed, but the other players don't. They're taking a chance of never ever, ever getting a chance to play in major championships. And so where does your legacy stand there? You know, I went on the tour and made a lot of money, but I never got to win any tournaments that are of value that would put me in the Hall of Fame and things of that nature.”
On the OWGR: “Yeah, OWGR, it's a flawed system. That's something we all here recognize. The field at Dubai got less points than Sea Island and more of the top players were there in Dubai, so obviously there's a flawed system. How do you fix it? You know, those are meetings we're going to have to have. We're going to have to have it with World Golf committee and as well as our -- the main tours that are involved in it somehow come up with a better system than is in place now.”
Note: the system was revamped and unveiled in August after years of discussion. Tiger might want to check out Joseph LaMagna’s case here that the new system is a “dramatic improvement” over the old one.
On 2023 playing plans: “The goal is to play just the major championships and maybe one or two more. That's it. I mean, that's -- physically that's all I can do…I don't have much left in this leg, so gear up for the biggest ones and hopefully, you know, lightning catches in a bottle and I'm up there in contention with a chance to win and hopefully I remember how to do that.”