Tiger, McIlroy launch prime-time virtual league

Tiger, McIlroy launch prime-time virtual league

ATLANTA — Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are launching a tech-infused golf league in partnership with the PGA Tour that will have players competing on six three-man teams in 15 regular-season matches and a playoff starting in January 2024.

The new league, TGL, will feature two-hour, 18-hole matches on a virtual course. The matches will take place in prime time on Monday nights in a custom-made venue in a yet-to-be-determined location.

Renderings released Wednesday by TGL indicate that the venues will feature a simulator that players will hit longer shots into, along with an authentic green area for chipping and putting.

The matches will probably be played between January and April, and each of the six teams will compete five times during the 15-week schedule.

McIlroy said Woods, 46, planned to compete in the matches. Woods played in only three tournaments this season while recovering from serious injuries he suffered in a car wreck outside Los Angeles in February 2021.

“Who knows where we’re going to see Tiger Woods play golf next, right?” McIlroy said. “We don’t know what his schedule is going to be. We don’t know how his body is going to be. But to be able to see him still showcase his skills on prime time, on TV without really any wear and tear on his body, I think to be able to see Tiger hit golf shots and still sort of provide people with a glimpse of his genius — I think it is a really good use of his time.”

In a statement, Woods called the league the “next evolution within professional golf.”

“Embracing technology to create this unique environment gives us the ability to move our sport into primetime on a consistent basis alongside so many of sports’ biggest events,” Woods said in the statement. “As a big sports fan myself, I’m excited about blending golf with technology and team elements common in other sports.

“We all know what it’s like to be in a football stadium or a basketball arena where you can watch every play, every minute of action unfold right in front of you. It’s something that inherently isn’t possible in traditional golf — and an aspect of TGL that will set it apart and appeal to a new generation of fans.”

TMRW Sports CEO Mike McCarley said the company hoped to televise the matches. Fans will be able to bet on the matches where it’s legal, as the PGA Tour players compete for actual purses.

McIlroy said McCarley, former president of the Golf Channel, approached him about forming the league and they’ve been working on their plans for about two years.

“I think when someone comes to you and says, ‘I’ve got something to show you, I think it’ll be really cool, it’ll enhance the fan experience, it’ll be additive and complementary to the PGA Tour season, oh, and by the way, Tiger Woods is involved,’ it’s like, ‘Yeah, I think that would be pretty cool,'” McIlroy said.

McIlroy said the new league will allow PGA Tour players to interact more with fans and help grow the game. He also said players will have an opportunity to have ownership stakes in the league as well.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for PGA Tour players to show a different side of themselves prime time on Monday night,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s great for brand exposure to try to engage a different audience. We’ve all heard about the fact of how old the golf audience is, trying to get younger eyeballs on to it.”

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