Tiger Woods backs PGA Tour-PIF merger, despite 'murky' future

Tiger was surprised by PGA/LIV merger announcement (1:47)

Tiger Woods speaks about the PGA's merger with LIV as well as his position on the board. (1:47)

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Tiger Woods said Tuesday that he still has faith in PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, but criticized that players were kept in the dark before the tour reached a framework agreement with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and the DP World Tour in June.

Woods, speaking at a news conference at the Hero World Challenge for the first time since the Masters in April, said he was frustrated, like many other PGA Tour members, about not learning about the deal until shortly before it was announced June 6.

"I was frustrated with the fact that the players were never involved," Woods said. "This is our tour, and we were all taken back by it. It happened so quickly without any of our involvement. No one knew. That can't happen again."

Woods, an 82-time winner on the PGA Tour, joined the tour's board of directors on Aug. 1 as a sixth player director. The board also includes four independent directors and one director representing the PGA of America. Policy board chairman Ed Herlihy and independent director Jimmy Dunne worked with Monahan behind the scenes to negotiate the framework agreement with the Saudis.

Adding Woods to the board gave players a majority position. Patrick Cantlay, Charley Hoffman, Peter Malnati, Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth are the other player directors. Spieth replaced Rory McIlroy on the board last week.

"I'm sure a lot of the players were taken back by it, by what happened," Woods said. "So quickly without any input or any information about it, it was just thrown out there. I was very surprised that the process was what it was. We were very frustrated with what happened and we took steps going forward to ensure that we were not going to be left out of the process like we were. So part of that process was putting me on the board and accepting that position."

Woods expressed some frustration with how slowly governance changes have been implemented by the PGA Tour. He said he was confident a deal could be finalized with the Public Investment Fund (PIF) or another private equity group -- or perhaps both. The framework agreement with PIF is set to expire Dec. 31, although it could be extended, sources previously told ESPN.

"We have multiple options, but still we would like to have a deal done [on] Dec. 31," Woods said. "That's what the agreement said in the summer, and all parties understand that. But there are other options out there."

Spieth said Tuesday that the player directors collectively believe that they're "going to get something done by the same deadline."

Woods said the deal included many moving parts and described the future landscape of men's professional golf as "murky." The Saudi-funded LIV Golf League has released most of its 2024 schedule and is continuing to recruit PGA Tour players to join its circuit. The only certainty is that the framework agreement ended the costly legal battle between the sides.

"I would have to say there's a lot of moving parts on how we're going to play," Woods said. "Whether it's here on the PGA Tour or it's merging or team golf. There's a lot of different aspects that are being thrown out there all at once, and we are trying to figure all that out and what is the best solution for all parties and best solution for all the players that are involved."