Tiger Woods considers rejecting US Ryder Cup captaincy because of LIV Golf merger talks

Tiger Woods has finally acknowledged that he might decline the US Ryder Cup captaincy for next year’s match in New York because of his commitments in the knife-edge negotiations with the Saudi Public Investment Fund.

‌The PGA of America is keen – for obvious commercial as well as competitive reasons – for the icon to lead the Stars and Stripes into the contest at Bethpage Black, but have understandably grown weary of the 48-year-old’s refusal to commit.

‌Telegraph Sport understands that the association – which as well as the American arm of the biennial dust-up also is in control of the US PGA Championship, that starts here at Valhalla on Thursday – urged Woods and his camp to provide a definitive answer by the end of April.

‌But still the issue continues, despite Luke Donald, the re-instated Europe captain, having already visited the Long Island layout and made notable strides in his preparation by appointing two vice-captains.

‌Woods, however, has other matters in his in-tray, predominantly being so central to the upcoming talks to try to ratify a framework agreement between PIF – the bankrollers of the breakaway LIV Golf League – and the PGA Tour.

‌He is a player director on the Tour’s policy board, that will ultimately decide if the details of any deal are accepted or not, and is the only active golfer on the “transaction subcommittee” which will talk face-to-face with the PIF representatives.

‌As well as this, he and TaylorMade have just unveiled a new clothing line, “Sun Day Red” and along with Rory McIlroy, is launching an indoor golf league.

‌Insiders say that he and his management have asked the PGA of America if it can pare down his Ryder Cup sponsors’ responsibilities in the build-up to the match and outsource some other duties, to assistant captains or the like. However, the back and forth has apparently stalled.

“We’re still talking,” Woods said here on Tuesday. “There’s nothing that has been confirmed yet. We’re still working on what that might look like. Also whether or not I have the time to do it I’m dedicating so much time to what we’re doing with the PGA Tour, I don’t want to not fulfil the role of the captaincy if I can’t do it.

“What that all entails and representing Team USA and the commitments to the PGA of America, the players and the fans – I need to feel that I can give the amount of time that it deserves.”

Woods was as guarded as ever and although he said he was “surprised” that Jimmy Dunne, the Tour executive who was the architect of the “framework agreement” between the circuit and the Saudis last year, but would not get into Dunne’s accusation that the players on the board have taken over and made his job “utterly superfluous.

‌Dunne, an ally of McIlroy’s, also declared that no “meaningful progress” had yet been made in the negotiations”. Woods denied this. “Has there been progress?” he said. “Yes. But it’s an ongoing negotiation, so a lot of work ahead for all of us with this process. We’re making steps and it may not be giant steps, but we’re making steps.”

‌On the apparent fall-out with his friend and business partner McIlroy – who the American was apparently complicit in blocking from rejoining the board – Woods was just as vague. “It’s good to see it differently, but collectively as a whole, we want to see whatever’s best for all the players, the fans and the state of golf,” he said.

‌Woods begins his unlikely challenge for a record-tying fifth US PGA crown at the course where he prevailed in 2000, alongside Adam Scott and Keegan Bradley.

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