Tiger Woods-Rory McIlroy relationship souring as ‘messy’ PGA Tour drama grows

May 11, 2024

The in-fighting over how to best fatten wallets on the PGA Tour is causing tension between some of the biggest names in the sport.

Golf Digest reported that while still cordial, Woods and McIlroy’s relationship has “soured over the past six months” and that the pair have had a “falling out” due to differing views over the best path forward for the sport.

Some players on the board balked at the idea of veteran Webb Simpson vacating his seat on the condition that it went directly to McIlroy, as those spots are generally voted on.

“I think it just … it got pretty complicated and pretty messy and I think with the way it happened, I think it opened up some old wounds and scar tissue from things that have happened before,” McIlroy said Wednesday.

“I think there was a subset of people on the board that were maybe uncomfortable with me coming back on for some reason … I think Webb just stays on and sees out his term, and I think he’s gotten to a place where he’s comfortable with doing that and I just sort of keep doing what I’m doing. So yeah, I put my hand up to help and it was — I wouldn’t say it was rejected, it was a complicated process to get through to put me back on there. So that’s all fine, no hard feelings and we’ll all move on.”

On the heels of that news, The Associated Press reported that Woods would be the only player negotiating with PIF — the financial arm of the Saudi Arabian government — as part of a transaction subcommittee that also includes PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, board chairman Joe Gorder, John W. Henry of Fenway Sports Group and Joe Ogilvie, a former tour player appointed as a director liaison in March.

The issues started nearly two years ago when players began defecting for the rebel LIV Golf league that is funded by PIF.

The PGA and PIF agreed to a shocking framework deal last June that would ostensibly merge the PGA and LIV.

Eleven months later, details remain vague on any progress that has been accomplished.

Meanwhile, the flood of players bolting for LIV has only grown.

Tiger Woods at the Wells Fargo Championship with his coach Michael Bannon on May 8, 2024.Getty Images

That was led by Jon Rahm’s shocking decision to switch tours in December for a reported $450 million.

In January, Spieth — who took McIlroy’s spot on the board — questioned whether the PGA needs PIF at all.

Spieth’s comments came after a $1.5 billion cash infusion for PGA Tour Enterprises came from a group of high-profile investors, led by Fenway Sports and including Mets owner Steve Cohen.

It led to McIlroy leaving a group text with Spieth and other players.

Woods pocketed $100 million, McIlroy $50 million and Spieth $30 million, according to The Telegraph.

As the players continue to fight over the money, the game remains divided with some of the sport’s best playing for LIV, which has garnered minuscule interest from viewers.

And at the same time, PGA Tour ratings have sagged.