BEDMINSTER, NJ – When Tiger Woods endorsed the PGA Tour – and insisted on the concept of LIV Golf – two weeks ago at St. Andrews, Bryson DeChambeau took notice.
And there was no problem.
DeChambeau, who became friends with Woods four years ago and played several practice rounds with him, has not spoken to the 15-time major winner since moving to LIV Golf. But he credits him for making something like LIV Golf possible.
“I have a lot of respect for Tiger; look, if it wasn’t for Tiger, he wouldn’t exist,” DeChambeau said Thursday after playing with former President Donald Trump, his son Eric and Dustin Johnson at the Trump Bedminster Pro-Am.
“So I have a lot of respect for what he’s done for the game of golf, what he’s done for the PGA Tour to allow us to have this opportunity.”
The only chance is to sign guaranteed contracts and huge purses. This week’s event, the third on the LIV Golf Invitational Series schedule, is offering $20 million to the 48 players and $20 million to the team. The winning individual will get 4 million dollars.
Woods was critical of his career ahead of the British Open: “What are these players doing to secure money, what is the incentive to practice? What is the incentive to go there and find it in the dirt? You’re getting paid a lot of money up front and playing a few events and playing 54 holes. They are playing brilliant music and all these atmospheres are different.
“I don’t see how this move is going to be 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 strong stand on any issue. DeChambeau said he understood.
“I have a lot of respect for what he has to say,” said DeChambeau. “For me personally, I work harder to be my own person, to prove that I’m worth that price.
“We were very close and unfortunately we didn’t talk, one day we will talk again, and I’m always open to talk to anyone. I have no problem with him and I hope we can see eye to eye.”
DeChambeau wasn’t surprised by Woods’ comment because “it’s his legacy. I totally understand. He’s the one who allowed this to happen in a really, cool, unique way, and I think it all works out for everyone in the end. It’s a bit of muddy water now.”
2022 was a struggle for DeChambeau, who suffered from a hip injury and a hand issue that required surgery. He had four missed cuts and one layoff, and his best result was a 56th-straight finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the US Open.
DeChambeau finished 10th and joined LIV Golf in time for his second Portland event. He then pitched the eighth in the opener and said he is 100 percent healthy.
On the first hole of the Pro-Am, Trump played behind Theos with fans and hit his approach within the reach of anyone in the group. Trump then stepped up when he realized he could play for an amateur band in the future.
“He’s a really good golfer,” DeChambeau said. “It was an honor. Anytime you get to play with a president, past or sitting, whoever it is, it’s just an honor. I feel very fortunate to have a relationship with him and he’s always been generous to me.”
“(His game) is amazing. He is a big man and therefore has speed. Hopefully I can get him into speed training a little bit. He just hits the ball quickly and is up and running.
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