Tiger Woods — for A Change – Was Asked about Phil Mickelson

2022 PGA Championship, Tiger Woods, (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
2022 PGA Championship, Tiger Woods, (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) /

For the last 25 years, every golfer who plays well has been asked about Tiger Woods. Now for a change, Woods is being asked about Phil Mickelson, because nobody can figure out what the heck is going on with Mickelson these days.

“I think that some of his views on how the Tour could be run, should be run, been a lot of disagreement there,” Woods said regarding Mickelson’s views on PGA Tour operations in general before the PGA Championship.  “The viewpoints that Phil has made with the Tour and what the Tour has meant to all of us have been polarizing as well.”

Tiger Woods is solidly in the camp that favors the PGA Tour because he’s playing for more than just money.

“I just think that what Jack ( Nicklaus) and Arnold (Palmer) have done in starting the TOUR and breaking away from the PGA of America and creating our tour in ’68 or ’69, somewhere in there, I just think there’s a legacy to that,” Woods explained. “I believe in legacies. I believe in major championships. I believe in big events, comparisons to historical figures of the past.”

As nearly every golf fan knows, Tiger Woods has spent a quarter of a century proving that he is the best or nearly the best golfer who ever lived, depending on the measurement used. He long ago surpassed the amount of money – just in winnings — that anyone needs to live.  So, the only reason for Woods to have continued to play is to measure himself against Jack Nicklaus (18 majors, 73 PGA Tour titles) and Sam Snead (82 Tour titles).

Tiger Woods looks to break Nicklaus’ and Snead’s Major championship records

Woods is three majors away from tying Nicklaus in majors and one victory away from breaking Snead’s victory mark. Along the way, he surpassed the careers of Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Tom Watson, Billy Casper, Walter Hagen, and anybody else who ever played professional golf, including Phil Mickelson.

For at least a little while, since there are still records to break, Tiger Woods will continue to play, if he is able to, because he’s playing against history.  He clearly wants to create the longest possible shadow so that he will be remembered as the best ever. He won’t say that, but that’s what he’s doing.

“The top players have carried the Tour for a number of years, whether it’s back with Jack, Arnold and Gary or other eras, you know, the top players have carried the tours,” Tiger Woods said.

One issue that Mickelson has with the PGA Tour, according to his comments, are PGA Tour rights fees.  Woods is familiar with paying them through his Hero World Challenge.  He said that the November/ December events he has played in previously, such as the one-on-one contests he played at Bighorn GC and Sherwood CC or The Matches, also had rights fees associated with them.

“We negotiate with the Tour, and, whether it’s one-off day events like we have with matches under the lights like I used to do back in the old days, or it’s regular Tour events, each tournament is different,” Woods explained. “Obviously there are rights fees that have to be paid, and we understand that. Obviously, we go in there as events and try and negotiate that down as low as possible, and try and make as much money as we can for the local events.”

Tiger Woods asserted that the rights fees are then paid out to players on the PGA Tour in some fashion or as part of purses for all the fields during the year.

“I can’t speak for him ( Mickelson) not knowing and understanding that,” Woods added.  He believes that Mickelson does understand it.

Because of their differences of opinions on this issue and because of Mickelson’s stance with the LIV Tour or the PGL, Woods has not reached out to Mickelson on the topic.

However, Tiger Woods does believe that the top players should be compensated by the PGA Tour for what they bring to the game.

“The top players have carried the Tour for a number of years, whether it’s back with Jack, Arnold and Gary or other eras, you know, the top players have carried the tours,” he added.

The PIP program, or whatever method is used to reward those who move the needle, sell tickets, generate ratings, is one way the Tour is trying to do that.

One thing that does annoy Woods, and probably others, is when his likeness is used to promote an event that he is not playing.  He said he has shared his thoughts and even had some arguments with former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and current Commissioner Jay Monahan on that topic.

In addition, being part of feature groups that generate streaming views is not separated out specifically to the players involved in those activities.  Whether that kind of coverage is “sold” to networks and broadcasting entities as part of an overall rights deal, Woods did not mention.  Mickelson also complained about streaming rights being sold.

It is entirely possible that the Tour does a package deal that includes streaming of featured groups as a part of a bigger, overall rights package.

“There’s a reason why they are feature groups,” Woods noted. “I think those guys should get rewarded somehow.”

Woods and Mickelson are in accord on that issue.

Phil Mickelson vs. The World. dark. Next

How the entire issue gets resolved will play out in the upcoming months.  By the time the first Saudi event happens, whether it’s LIV or PGL or whatever name it goes by, some of these issues will get closer to a resolution.

However, it’s important to note that Tiger Woods believes Mickelson has value to the PGA Tour.

“As a professional, we miss him being out here,” Woods added in what might be the only Kumbaya moment on the topic of Mickelson.  “I mean, he’s a big draw for the game of golf. He’s just taking his time, and we all wish him the best when he comes back.”