Rory McIlroy shakes hands with Tiger Woods on the 18th green after they completed a practice round prior to the 2023 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, on April 3, 2023.
Christian Petersen | Getty Images
Disney’s ESPN has nabbed the broadcast rights to air matches from TGL, the startup golf league led by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
TGL, which is in partnership with the PGA Tour, will have its debut Jan. 9 as part of a multiyear deal. A preview show will air on Disney’s broadcast network ABC on Dec. 30.
The early games of the TGL season will air near other sports events and appear on Disney’s ESPN+, a move that allows the streamer to bulk up on more live sports rights.
The inaugural match will air the night after the College Football Playoff’s title game, and the second will come the following evening after an NFL wild-card playoff game. Both TGL matches will air on traditional TV’s ESPN and streamer ESPN+. The rest of the matches will air on ESPN’s TV networks, as well as ESPN+.
The launch of the new league comes as professional golf finds itself at a major crossroads following a proposed deal between the Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund-backed rival LIV Golf in June. The agreement between the PGA Tour and LIV has yet to be finalized. The Tour has attracted potential outside investors, including Endeavor Group Holdings and Fenway Sports Group, CNBC recently reported. Some of the outside investors are considering making a rival pitch to PIF’s proposal.
TGL, a new primetime, high-tech golf league created by Woods, McIlroy and former NBC Sports executive Mike McCarley, has attracted stars from the PGA Tour. In addition to Woods and McIlroy, other top players including Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Matt Fitzpatrick, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Xander Schauffele, Max Homa, Rickie Fowler and Billy Horschel have committed to play. More players are expected to be announced.
The PGA Tour is an investor in the new league, and the new league has said the event timing will be complementary to the players’ schedules in the Tour.
Steve Cohen, billionaire and owner of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets, is also an investor after buying the founding rights to the New York team in TGL. His team will be managed by his family office, Cohen Private Ventures.
The league will feature the Tour players split into six teams, who will play two-hour, head-to-head match-play matches in a specially built arena in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The matches will incorporate live action as well as the latest golf technology.