- Woods and McIlroy joined by sports executives with NBC links
- Stadium-based events could launch in 2024 on NBC
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have confirmed they are launching TMRW Sports, a technology-focused venture could stage one-day stadium-based golf events that will help the PGA Tour halt further defections to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf.
The multiple major winners are joined by sports industry executive Mike McCarley and broadcasting veteran Dick Ebersol as initial investors in the project, which says it will look to create “progressive approaches” to sport, media, and entertainment.
“I am excited to work with TMRW Sports in bringing people more access to sports,” said Woods. “So many athletes, entertainers, and people I meet from all walks of life share our passion for sports, but they also share our desire to build a better future for the next generation of sports fans. Together, we can harness technology to bring fresh approaches to the sports we love.”
“For the last few years off the course, I’ve been focused on helping to lead golf into its digital future,” added McIlroy. “Now, by joining forces with Tiger, Mike, and other TMRW Sports partners, we can shape the way that media and technology improve the sports experience. In a world where technology provides us with so many choices for using our time, we want to make sports more accessible for as many people as possible.”
Both Woods and McIlroy have been two of the most outspoken critics of LIV, which has lured players away from the Tour with huge contracts and a pledge to use new formats and digital innovations to engage fans.
Speculation that the two multiple major winners were working on an alternative plan to create new opportunities for players within the structure of the PGA Tour had increased in recent weeks, and it is said their plans were shared with other players at a meeting last week.
The rumoured format would see players compete against each other in a stadium setting in a series of events running from January to March that would not compete directly with traditional PGA Tour events.
Reports suggest the venture was well received among players, who would have the opportunity to build equity in the enterprise, and has the support of PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. Existing broadcast partner NBC has been lined up to show the events.
The involvement of McCarley and Ebersol would add strength to these claims. McCarley oversaw NBC’s golf coverage for more than a decade until 2021, while Ebersol was chairman of NBC Sports, producing Olympics and Super Bowls as well as creating Sunday Night Football and entertainment show Saturday Night Live.
The launch of TMRW Sports can be widely interpreted is the first major counterattack against LIV Golf. Combating some of the riches on offer might be a harder, more long-term prospect but this intervention from the two biggest names in golf will at least neuter one of LIV’s arguments.
Many LIV golfers have waxed lyrical about plans to modernise the sport, but Woods and McIlroy are now active investors in a sports technology businesses with a belief the resources they are able to access will be transformational.
Golf’s existing stakeholders hope that they can offer at least some of the perks of LIV without the risk of being excommunicated from the wider sport and losing commercial deals. The fact it is, on paper, a player-led initiative will only help.