With players from the PGA Tour and breakaway LIV Series set to face off at the Masters in April, golf legend Tiger Woods admits he's not sure what to expect when the rival players meet on the course. The PGA and LIV remain locked in a heated legal battle after the PGA banned LIV players from their events.
Unlike most major event in the United States, which are sanctioned by the PGA Tor, golf's four major events - the Masters, US Open, PGA Championship and the British Open - are run independently. As such, LIV players are not banned from entering.
With the likes of Cameron Smith, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, and Dustin Johnson all set to be on the tee at Augusta in April, Woods admitted he wasn't sure how the reception would be with tensions still simmering between players. Speaking to reporters as he makes his comeback from injury at the Genesis Invitational this week, Woods said the saga had changed the nature of certain friendships on tour.
With a potentially awkward reunion on the cards, Woods was asked what he expected when the groups of rival players converged. "That's a great question because I don't know, because I haven't been around them," Woods replied.
"Some of the players out here have. For instance Rory (McIlroy) is in Dubai with some of those players.
"I don't know what (my) reaction is going to be. I know some of our friendships have certainly taken a different path. But we'll see when all that transpires. "
Of key importance to Woods is that any disagreements between PGA and LIV players be set aside during the traditional champions dinner, which will be hosted by last year's Masters winner Scottie Scheffler. He said keeping up the sport's traditions outweighed any concerns players might have, at least for the one night.
"The champions dinner is something that is going to be talked about. We as a whole need to honour Scottie, Scottie is the winner, it's his dinner," Woods said.
"So (we need to) make sure Scottie gets recognised correctly, but also recognising the nature of what has transpired and the people who have left (the PGA Tour).
"What our situations are legally, emotionally... there's a lot there. "
Tiger Woods ready for comeback after brutal injury toll
Woods made a memorable comeback at the Masters last year, finishing 47th. It was a memorable occasion for the golfing champion, who was on a knife's edge of retiring after suffering serious injuries in a car accident in early 2021.
Hopes of a full-time return to the sport were dashed soon after, with Woods struggling to get through his rounds at the 2022 British Open. He had hoped to return to the PGA at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas last December, but was foiled after developing plantar fasciitis in his foot.
“I’m ready to play an ACTUAL PGA Tour event next week @thegenesisinv,” Woods tweeted on Saturday morning. Woods has played in three events since his 2021 crash, all of them majors.
He finished 47th at the Masters in 2022. He made the cut at the ensuing PGA Championship but withdrew after a nine-over Saturday round left him a 12-over for the tournament.
He was visibly in pain throughout the tournament while walking on his surgically repaired right leg. Woods then missed the cut in July during an emotional British Open appearance that was likely his last at St. Andrews. He didn't play at the U.S. Open in June.
Woods suffered multiple injuries during the single-car rollover crash on Feb. 23, 2021, that required emergency surgery to save his life. He sustained compound fractures to both bones in his lower right leg. He has since undergone an arduous rehab that has allowed him to walk and occasionally play golf.
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