BEDMINSTER, NJ – When Tiger Woods spoke in favor of the PGA Tour – and strongly against the LIV Golf concept – two weeks ago at St. Andrews, Bryson DeChambeau took notice.
And he had no problem with it.
DeChambeau, who befriended Woods four years ago and played numerous practice rounds with him, hasn’t spoken to the 15-time major winner since his move to LIV Golf. But he credits him for making something like LIV Golf possible.
“I have high regard for Tiger; look, this would n’t be existing if it were n’t for Tiger, ” DeChambeau said Thursday after playing with former President Donald Trump, his son Eric and Dustin Johnson in the pro-am at Trump Bedminister.
“So I have the utmost respect for what he did for the game of golf, what he did for the PGA Tour that allowed us to have this opportunity.”
The opportunity is guaranteed contracts just for signing on and huge purses. This week’s event, the third on the LIV Golf Invitational Series schedule, is offering $25 million, with $20 million to the 48 players individually plus another $5 million for a team portion. The individual winner gets $4 million.
Woods was critical of the venture when he spoke in advance of the British Open, saying: “What these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practice? What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt? You’re just getting paid a lot of money up front and playing a few events and playing 54 holes. They’re playing blaring music and have all these atmospheres that are different.
“I don’t see how that move is positive for a lot of these players in the long term.”
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Over the years, it has been rare for Woods to take such a hard stance on any issue. DeChambeau said he understood.
“I have ultimate respect for what he has to say,” DeChambeau said. “For me personally, to be my own human being, I’m going to work even harder to prove the fact that I’m worth that price.
“We have been fairly close and unfortunately we have not spoken, one day we will again, and I am always open for a conversation with anybody. I have no problem with it and I hope we can come see eye to eye on it.”
DeChambeau said he wasn’t surprised by Woods’ comments because “it’s his legacy. I totally understand it. He’s what’s allowed this to happen in a really, cool unique way that in the end, I think will all work out to everyone’s benefit. It’s just a little bit of muddy waters right now.”
It has been a struggle in 2022 for DeChambeau, who has battled a hip injury and a hand issue that required surgery. He had four missed cuts and a withdrawal during one stretch and his best result since the Sentry Tournament of Champions was a tie for 56th at the US Open.
DeChambeau joined LIV Golf in time for the second event in Portland, where he finished 10th. He then tied for eighth at the Open and said he was nearing 100 percent health.
On the first hole of the pro-am, Trump played from the back tees with the pros and hit his approach inside anyone in the group. Informed he could play at a forward set for amateurs, Trump moved up after that.
“He’s actually a really good golfer,” DeChambeau said. “It was an honour. Anytime you can play with a president, pastor or sitting, it’s just an honor no matter who it is. I feel very lucky to have a relationship with him and he’s always been generous to me.
“(His game) is very impressive. He’s a big human being and so he’s got that speed. Hopefully I can get him into speed training a little bit. He just hits the ball quickly and he’s up and running.”
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