Tiger Woods defends legacy of PGA Tour ahead of PGA Championship

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Tiger Woods strongly defended the legacy of the PGA Tour ahead of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf professional series teeing off next month.

Addressing the media Tuesday before the start of this weekโ€™s PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Woods made it clear he is in full support of the Tour his predecessors Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer built to what it is today.

โ€œI just think that what Jack and Arnold have done in starting the Tour and breaking away from the PGA of America and creating our tour in โ€™68 or โ€˜69, somewhere in there, I just think thereโ€™s a legacy to that,โ€ Woods said.

โ€œIโ€™ve been playing out here for a couple of years over decades, and I think thereโ€™s a legacy to it. I still think that the Tour has so much to offer, so much opportunity.โ€

Woodsโ€™ support for the PGA Tour, which was established in 1968, came when he was asked his views on the comments made by fellow golfer Phil Mickelson, who has been critical of the Tour while also voicing support for the upstart LIV Golf Invitational Series, which is backed by Saudi Arabiaโ€™s Public Investment Fund.

Addressing Mickelsonโ€™s comments, Woods said: โ€œYou know, he has his opinion on where he sees the game of golf going. You know, I have my viewpoint how I see the game of golf, and Iโ€™ve supported the Tour and my foundation has run events on the Tour for a number of years.

โ€œI understand different viewpoints, but I believe in legacies,โ€ Woods added. โ€œI believe in major championships. I believe in big events, comparisons to historical figures of the past. Thereโ€™s plenty of money out here. The Tour is growing.โ€

Mickelson has attracted criticism amid the launch of the LIV Golf series.

In February, comments from a 2021 interview with biographer Alan Shipnuck surfaced in which Mickelson was quoted as saying disparaging things about Saudi Arabiaโ€™s human rights record and asserting that the kingdom killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi, while still expressing interest in joining the Saudi-funded LIV Golf venture because it might provide leverage to โ€œreshape how the PGA Tour operates.โ€

Mickelson said his comments were off the record โ€“ a claim the reporter who interviewed him has denied โ€“ and said they were shared out of context and without his consent. Mickelson subsequently lost multiple sponsorships over the controversy and announced plans to take some time away from golf.

As the tournamentโ€™s defending champion, Mickelson initially registered to compete in the PGA Championship last month but withdrew from the tournament on Friday.

Woods said Tuesday that despite their difference of opinion, he missed having Mickelson the field this week.

โ€œItโ€™s always disappointing when the defending champion is not here,โ€ Woods said.

โ€œPhil has said some things that I think a lot of us who are committed to the Tour and committed to the legacy of the Tour have pushed back against, and heโ€™s taken some personal time, and we all understand that. But I think that some of his views on how the Tour could be run, should be run, thereโ€™s been a lot of disagreement there.

โ€œBut as we all know, as a professional, we miss him being out here. I mean, heโ€™s a big draw for the game of golf. Heโ€™s just taking his time and we all wish him the best when he comes back. Obviously weโ€™re going to have difference of opinions, how he sees the Tour, and weโ€™ll go from there.โ€

Woods is set to begin his quest for his 16th major title when he tees off at 9:11 a.m. ET on Thursday.

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