PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – It’s safe to say there will be a different vibe this year at the Champions Dinner on Tuesday night at the Masters. Tiger Woods conceded as much.
The annual gathering of the past champions for a meal of the defending champ’s choosing could be, in a word, awkward with LIV defectors Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Bubba Watson among several green-jacket holders that have departed the PGA Tour for the upstart league.
On Tuesday, during his pre-tournament press conference ahead of the Genesis Invitational, Woods addressed the elephant at the dinner, which will be hosted by Scottie Scheffler.
“I don’t know, I don’t know what that reaction’s going to be,” Woods said. “I know that some of our friendships have certainly taken a different path, but we’ll see when all that transpires. That is still a couple months away.”
Woods continued: “The Champions Dinner is going to be obviously something that’s talked about. We as a whole need to honor Scottie, Scottie’s the winner, it’s his dinner. So making sure that Scottie gets honored correctly but also realizing the nature of what has transpired and the people that have left, just where our situations are either legally, emotionally, there’s a lot there.”
Indeed, there is. Last month Jon Rahm said, “I think the Masters Champions Dinner’s going to be a little tense compared to how it’s been in the past.”
Scheffler, for one, said he hasn’t given the dinner much thought – and for the thousandth time said he hasn’t determined the menu for the feast yet. Last month, he joked that Bubba Watson, his former partner at the Zurich Classic team event, would have to sit at a “separate table.”
“Yeah. I haven’t seen many of the LIV guys,” Scheffler said. “I saw Bubba on vacation this year, and I told him that I was just going to have a separate table for him in the corner by himself, only kidding, obviously.”
On Tuesday, he was more diplomatic about the dinner.
“I haven’t looked that far ahead. I definitely, I don’t know exactly what you’re supposed to say that night. I haven’t really gotten too much info. I’ve got to talk to a few of the guys and figure out what actually goes on that night because I’m still kind of clueless,” he said. “I’m hoping that it will be a fun night. Gathering all those guys together in a room, I mean, it should be a lot of fun. It’s an historic group of people, Masters champions and I’m sure that week all put our personal opinions aside and just have a good night and just kind of enjoy what the night really is.”
The Champions Dinner will be held at Augusta National on Tuesday, April 4.