Tiger Woods Supports PGA’s Saudi Blood Money Funding

Tiger Woods says he isn’t opposed to the Saudi government’s Public Investment Fund being an investor in the PGA Tour. He was asked about the PIF during a news conference ahead of The Genesis at Riviera, marking his first return to the Tour since the 2023 Masters. Woods said, “Ultimately, we would like to have PIF be a part of our tour and a part of our product. Financially, we don’t right now, and the monies that they have come to the table with and what we initially had agreed to in the framework agreement, those are all the same numbers.”

Taking money from the Saudi government has been a major ethical sticking point for some of the players on the PGA Tour. Phil Mickelson, the first defector to LIV Golf, knew that going into the deal with LIV, according to an excerpt from an Alan Shipnuck biography on the lefty golfer. Mickelson said, “They’re scary motherf*****s to get involved with. We know they killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”

The PGA Tour has already agreed to a $3 billion deal with Strategic Sports Group (SSG), a group made up of billionaire sports team owners led by John Henry and Tom Werner of Fenway Sports Group. The money from SSG was used to found PGA Tour Enterprises, a for-profit arm that was originally designed as a framework between the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour, and the PIF. The deal with SSG opens up the potential for $930 million in equity to be distributed across past, former, and future players, according to a memo sent to PGA Tour players on February 7. Another $600 million would be distributed through recurring grants.

The deal with SSG may mean the PGA doesn’t even need the deal with the PIF. When PGA Tour Policy Board member Jordan Spieth was asked about the SSG deal, he noted that a PIF deal is “almost not even worth talking about right this second.” According to ESPN, an additional deal with the PIF would potentially inject another $3 billion or more into PGA Tour Enterprises.