Tiger Woods backs Rory McIlroy, says Greg Norman must step down as LIV chief




Tiger Woods catches a ball on the driving range before a practice round for the PGA Championship golf tournament - AP
Tiger Woods catches a ball on the driving range before a practice round for the PGA Championship golf tournament - AP  

Tiger Woods has followed Rory McIlroy in telling LIV Golf that Greg Norman "has to go" and added Saudi-funded tour must drop its PGA Tour lawsuit if peace talks are to be brokered.

Woods' intervention can be seen as a highly significant moment in the sport's ever-escalating civil war because if the Saudi-funded circuit does act on his demands then it is almost inconceivable that Jay Monahan would not be brought to the table.

Previously, the PGA Tour commissioner has dismissed the possibility of negotiations between the two factions, but Woods has set out a pathway to a meeting that could settle the dispute that, in Rory McIlroy's words, "is ripping the game apart".

McIlroy made his own plea a fortnight ago for the removal of Norman, the LIV chief executive, but such is Woods's status in the sport that his words carry far more weight, particularly in Sawgrass HQ.

"There is no willingness to negotiate if you have litigation against you," Woods said in a press conference at the Hero Challenge. "I think Greg has to go first of all.

"It has to start with leadership on their side, understanding that what is happening right now is not the best future for the whole game of golf. You need to have the two bodies come together and if one side has so much animosity, trying to destroy our tour, then how do you work with that?

Tiger Woods (left), who has echoed Rory McIlroy
Tiger Woods (left), who has echoed Rory McIlroy's call for Greg Norman (right) to quit as LIV Golf CEO - PA  

"There is a window of opportunity for us from both tours to figure this out but I think that window's closing just because the majors are coming up now and they're going to have their own criteria, but again that goes back to LIV and their lawsuit.

"They're suing us first and we countersued them. They have to back off the table, then we'll back off the table and then we have a place to talk, but their leadership has to change as well… Then we can all talk clearly."

Jonathan Grella, LIV's chief communication officer, later poured scorn on Woods's comments, tweeting: "Blockbuster calls for ouster of Netflix!" However, there can be little doubt that the chance of legitimacy and acceptance will be attractive to the Saudis.

Telegraph Sport exclusively revealed last month that Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Kingdom's sovereign wealth fund that has pumped more than £2billiion into LIV, had met with Mark King, the former TaylorMade CEO, with the prospect of him assuming the reins and Norman moving upstairs.

Woods was speaking in the Bahamas, at the 20-man invitation event where he was supposed to be playing his first competitive round since the Open in July. However, a foot problem caused him to withdraw on Monday. Woods reiterated that his hopes for 2023 will be to play in the four majors and "one of two other tournaments". "I can hit whatever shot you want, I just can't walk," he said.

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