Woods, McIlroy behind tech-infused golf league in TV venture

Aug 24, 2022, 1:49 AM | Updated: 1:50 pm
Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, listens to a question during a press conference at East Lake Gol...

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, listens to a question during a press conference at East Lake Golf Club prior to the start of the Tour Championship golf tournament Wednesday Aug 24, 2022, in Atlanta, Ga. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

ATLANTA (AP) — Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are bringing their own version of team golf to the PGA Tour.

A day after Woods and McIlroy announced a new media venture called TMRW Sports, they unveiled a project Wednesday that involves 18 players competing in a series of matches featuring technology as much as shot-making.

It’s called “TGL,” a tech-infused golf league that will be held in a stadium built for the occasion where fans can watch three-man teams compete in an 18-hole match — using simulators for the long shots, live shots for the shorter ones — that will take only two hours.

The league is to start in January 2024 and feature 15 regular-season matches on Monday nights, followed by the semifinals and the finals.

“For the fans, think sitting courtside at an NBA game. It’s that type of environment — music, player introductions. You’re right on top of the action as a fan,” said Mike McCarley, the former Golf Channel president who formed TMRW Sports with Woods and McIlroy and is its CEO. “You see everything play out in front of you.”

TMRW Sports — pronounced “tomorrow” — was formed to build technology-focused projects with a progressive approach to sports, entertainment and media.

Among the investors is Dick Ebersol, the retired chairman of NBC Sports whose many contribution to sports on TV include Sunday Night Football. He worked with McCarley at NBC.

“Since I’ve retired, I’ve refused any real work besides giving advice for plenty of friends, but this is the right idea at the right time with one of the few people I would do this with,” Ebersol said.

The announcement was lacking many details, including a broadcast partner, thought NBC is a likely candidate given its relationship with the PGA Tour and with Ebersol and McCarley. Also, McIlroy has a deal with the “GolfPass” venture in conjunction with Golf Channel.

Still to be determined are the 18 players on the six teams and when the matches will be held, though a majority figure to be the week of elevated events also announced Wednesday for the new PGA Tour schedule that starts next year.

“As a big sports fan myself, I’m excited about blending golf with technology and team elements common in other sports,” Woods said in a statement. “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.”

Woods previously was involved in real golf on Monday night when he was part of the “Showdown at Sherwood” and “Battle at Bighorn.” That faded within a decade, though the Monday night spot on the sports calendar from January to August is attractive.

Woods played only three times — all majors — this year as he recovers from leg injuries suffered in a February 2021 car crash. But he will be playing in the TGL and won’t have to walk far.

“We don’t know what his schedule is going to be. We don’t know how his body is going to be,” McIlroy said. “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, 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.”

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Woods, McIlroy behind tech-infused golf league in TV venture