Has Tiger Woods banned rival and LIV Golf defector Phil Mickelson from a private dinner for Open Championship winners at St Andrews in 2022?
As described in Alan Shipnuck’s upcoming book: LIVE and let dieWoods is said to have demanded that Mickelson be banned from the event, which took place at the height of the legal battle between the two golf circuits. The two rival tours have now agreed to a controversial merger, which is still being negotiated.
LIV’s first event took place in June 2022 and there was lingering hostility over Mickelson and other defectors being allowed to compete in golf’s annual majors.
So when it came time for past Open winners to dine together at the 268-year-old club, Woods reportedly took it upon himself to make sure Mickelson wasn’t welcome.
“He spoke to a handful of other (former champions) to get their blessing and then went to the R&A and told them no one wanted Phil there and it would make the night weird and awkward,” one participant told Shipnuck. ‘Whose side would they take, Tiger’s or Phil’s? That’s an easy choice.’
Woods gestures to the crowd on the 18th green of the 150th Open Championship in 2022
Mickelson tees off on the 18th hole at St. Andrews during the 2022 Open Championship
Tiger Woods welcomes the crowd to the 2022 Open Championship in St. Andrews
At the time, Mickelson told reporters that the R&A advised him against participating in that and similar events.
“The R&A contacted me a few weeks earlier and said, ‘Look, we don’t think it’s a good idea to go, but if you want to, you can,’” Mickelson told the media. “I just didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, so I said, ‘Okay.’ We both agreed it would be best if I didn’t.”
Woods was one of LIV Golf’s most outspoken critics when it began luring PGA players with nine-figure deals, resulting in a legal battle between the two golf circuits.
His presence on the PGA Tour policy council came as a major relief to friend and rival Rory McIlroy, who thanked the injured golf legend in August for representing the players during the controversial merger with Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf.
McIlroy (right) praised Woods (left) for representing players’ interests on the PGA’s policy board
“For the player who has left the greatest legacy on the game, especially over the last 20 years, it is very important that he is included in the discussions about the future of professional golf and what that could look like,” McIlroy said.
“Tiger has been committed to all of us on Tour and I think he realizes that all the players on the policy board are trying to play regular golf and at the same time trying to navigate all these different things, so he may have a little bit more time on his hands.” hands than us.
“So it would be greatly appreciated if he would go the extra mile and take some of the burden off of us.”
Woods and McIlroy were the biggest supporters of the established tours in their battle with LIV Golf, but were left in limbo before the shock announcement of a deal between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which finances LIV. .
LIV CEO Greg Norman and Saudi PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan welcomed the merger between the Tour and LIV Golf, which sent shockwaves around the world
Masters champion Jon Rahm said players felt a sense of “betrayal” as the deal was negotiated in secret, with calls for PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan to resign when the framework agreement was unveiled on June 6.
Woods became player director in what the PGA Tour announced as a new agreement “to ensure the Tour lives up to its mission of being a player-driven organization, for the players, by the players.”
The new board consists of six player directors, five independent directors – including a replacement for Randall Stephenson, who resigned over “serious concerns” about the deal – and the PGA of America chief executive.
Woods, 47, has not played since withdrawing from April’s Masters and admits his future playing opportunities will be extremely limited, but the 15-time major winner remains a hugely influential figure in the game.