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From Ryder Cup jeopardy, lifetime bans, and rumours of an elected “poster boy”, speculation continues over the Saudi-backed super league. Much was made of the Saudi International, with players reportedly receiving enormous appearance fees to take part. Much more was made of the origin of that money, with the likes of Brandel Chamblee and Eamon Lynch publicly questioning the ethics of the world’s best players.
Take all that away, it provided the stage for Harold Varner III to do what so few people have; drop a 120-foot eagle putt on the final hole of a tournament to win by one. For a moment, we forgot all about the rumoured super league and player ethics only for the cheers to quieten and it come right back to the forefront of our minds.
Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Jason Kokrak continue to compliment the concept of a super league whilst Lee Westwood’s silence and admission of a signed NDA did little but add to the speculation. Rory McIlroy remains one of the few that has spoken negatively about the idea. Back in May 2021, the four-time major winner called the idea, “nothing more than a money grab” and compared it to football’s doomed attempt to break from tradition.
He added, “I’m just speaking about my own beliefs. I’m playing this game to cement my place in history and my legacy and to win Major championships. I honestly don’t think there’s a better structure in place and I don’t think there will be”.
Rory is not alone in those feelings. Former World No.1 and arguably the greatest the game has ever seen, Tiger Woods, has spoken publicly about his support for the PGA Tour, all but quashing any suggestion of joining the rumoured Saudi-backed Super League. Speaking at the Hero Challenge last year he said, “I’ve decided for myself that I’m supporting the PGA Tour, that’s where my legacy is. I’ve been fortunate enough to have won 82 events on this Tour and 15 Major championships and been a part of the World Golf Championships, the start of them and the end of them. So I have an allegiance to the PGA Tour”.
Whilst Tiger might be approaching the twilight of his career, he is still the most recognisable figure within the game and his refusal to play a part will serve as a blow to the rumoured Saudi-backed Super League. With reports of Bryson DeChambeau being offered upwards of $100m to take part, one can only imagine the sum that Tiger would command given he has quite literally transcended the game of golf since his arrival in 1996.
Woods’ wasn’t done there and was quick to compliment the current structure of the PGA Tour, “I think the Tour is in great hands, they’re doing fantastic and prize money’s going up. It’s just not guaranteed money like most sports are. It’s just like tennis, you have to go out there and earn it”. It would seem money for simply showing up is not something that Tiger advocates.
In fact, Tiger had reportedly been approached by the Saudis numerous times in the past, even turning down a $3m appearance fee to take part in the Saudi International. Back then, the tournament was sanctioned by the European Tour (now DP World Tour) but has since switched to the Asian Tour after the DP World Tour removed its association.
At just 24, Woods became the youngest golfer to complete the career grand slam and has gone on to win 15 Major championships in total. His last coming at the 2019 Masters, eleven years after his last Major success. Woods survived a near career-ending car accident in February 2021 and made a competitive comeback at the 2021 PNC Championship, where he and son Charlie put a smile back on the faces of the golfing community. It remains to be seen when we will see him competing again but it would appear not to be in Saudi Arabia.
James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.
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