Just seven weeks before its glitzy launch, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have suffered a huge blow to their indoor golf league with its tee-off being put back until 2025.
The TGL was due to begin in Palm Beach Gardens on January 9, with live TV events to run in a succession of Mondays before its £18 million grand finale the week before The Masters in April.
As well as Woods and McIlroy, 22 of the world’s leading players have been contracted - including the likes of Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas and Tommy Fleetwood - for the project that is viewed as a direct response to the LIV Golf League.
However, the 1,600-capacity arena that had been specially constructed near the homes of Woods and McIlroy in south Florida dramatically collapsed last week, after the failure of a power system caused the dome to deflate, leaving the schedule too tight.
Instead of embarking on a race to make repairs to the construction and cutting corners to ensure there was at least a partial calendar, TGL and broadcasting partners ESPN decided to shelve it for a year.
Critics will inevitably be lining up to ridicule the TGL - officially licensed by the PGA Tour - when it does start with its simulator about 20 times larger than standard and a “green zone” that will allow a variety of shots to a swivelling putting surface.
“It has to work and look good or it will be slaughtered,” an industry insider told Telegraph Sport. “They know they have to get it right. Millions have already been invested, with six four-man teams financed by huge sponsors [including Liverpool FC owners, Fenway Sports]. ESPN clearly wouldn’t want it appearing incomplete on their high-tech TV broadcasts. TGL and the Tour don’t want it to be a laughing stock and in the midst of the ‘merger’ negotiations, essentially a PR gimme to LIV.”
Woods and McIlroy both tried to put a positive spin on the latest setback that will likely cost their venture eight-figure sums. A fortnight ago world No 3 Jon Rahm pulled out after originally committing.
“I’ve been a believer in TGL, and as the momentum has built this past year, I’m even more excited about what this can become for fans of the game all around the world,” Woods said in a statement.
“Although the events of last week will force us to make adjustments to our timelines, I’m fully confident that this concept will be brought to life by our great committed players.”
“The postponement brings mixed feelings of disappointment and excitement,” McIlroy concurred. “Above all, we are happy that no one was injured. Given the circumstances, while the delay is disappointing, the postponement will allow us to regroup, refocus and return stronger.”