Greg Norman said he’s more optimistic now than he was when he was chosen CEO of the Saudi Arabia-backed company in October about the future of LIV Golf Investments and its ambitious concept to grow the game’s interests and reach around the world.
In a phone interview with Golfweek on Wednesday, Norman remarked, “I’m more enthusiastic today than I’ve ever been.” “Today was Day 1,” says the narrator. We’re a new company. We’re in for a long journey. We’re not leaving.
“We’re ready to move forward and expand.”
Despite the skies opening up late in the afternoon over West Palm Beach, Florida, Norman was still having a good time. Earlier in the day, he announced the start of the eight-event LIV Golf Invitational in June, which will feature individual and team competition with a total prize pool of $255 million. The first event will take place at Centurion Golf Club in London from June 9-11, with a purse of $20 million and a $5 million bonus for the top three teams.
The top three in the individual format will split $30 million after the first seven events are completed. The final event, which will take place on October 28-30 at a yet-to-be-determined location, will be a team championship with a prize pool of $50 million.
Tournaments will be held at four locations around the United States, including Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey.
LIV Golf Investments, which has already invested $300 million in the Asian Tour over the last ten years, is putting up more than $400 million to get the series off the ground. There will be 48 players and 12 four-man teams competing in the competitions. It will be a 54-hole tournament with no cut and shotgun start. Contrary to popular belief, players will not be required to register for all eight events. Teams will be determined through a draft held before each of the first seven events.
“We finally got to tell the world who we are,” Norman, 66, who is also the circuit’s commissioner, added. “And now all this supposition and white noise goes away, right?” Because we can now put it out there in the open. Our investors are quite enthusiastic. Everyone in our staff, which numbers close to 50 people on our payroll, is ecstatic. “At long last, we get our opportunity to shine.”
Norman, who wrote letters to 250 players on various tours across the world on Tuesday night, said invites to join the league will be handed out soon.
Norman, a two-time major champion and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, stated, “They will have an opportunity to play somewhere else.” Players, according to the Australian, are independent contractors who should be permitted to compete anywhere at any time. His attempt to launch a world golf tour was thwarted by the PGA Tour in 1993-1994.
“They may still play the PGA Tour, the European Tour, and everywhere else they want,” Norman added. “All we’re doing is giving them another chance to raise their market value.”
Phil Mickelson is one of the people that will be invited. The six-time major champion and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame hasn’t competed on the PGA Tour since the Farmers Insurance Open in January. He’s taking a break from golf after receiving a lot of backlash for derogatory comments he made to Golf Digest and Fire Pit Collective; he called out the PGA Tour for its “obnoxious greed,” and said he’d use the rival league, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s vast financial resources, as leverage against the PGA Tour, despite the country’s repressive regime and long history of human rights violations.
“Phil said what he thought he had to say, and to be honest with you, I feel bad for Phil because of those statements,” Norman remarked. “However, I’m giving him his own space.” I’m not going to call him and tell him what’s going on. If someone wants to get away from everything and sort themselves out, I appreciate their thought process.
“As a player, I’ll say this. We’ve all made mistakes at some point in our lives. We’ve all three-putted to lose a tournament, double-bogeyed to lose a tournament, and said things we afterwards regretted, not just as golfers, but as humans in general. And I’m sure Phil is remorseful. He expressed regret.
“However, I will say this: there will always be a door open for Phil, who has done so much for the game.” He’s accomplished a lot on the golf course, he has a huge fan base, and he’s been a wonderful supporter of charities, so “he’ll be back.”
After a recent rough patch in which many of the game’s biggest names, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa, and Brooks Koepka, publicly – and in some cases, pointedly – rejected the league backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and a rival to the PGA Tour, Wednesday was a big day for Norman.
Norman explained, “I didn’t accept any body punches from the players because I respect the athletes and their brain processes and what they do.” “A different story in the media.” As a result, there’s a lot of white noise floating around.
“I’ve already suffered a few body punches from the media, so I’ve developed a very thick skin.” And in my career, I’ve taken a lot of body knocks and kept playing because I love golf. And there is a lot that golf can provide not only for players, but also for spectators, stakeholders, and governments.
“What keeps me going is my love for the game.”
In addition to player rejections, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has warned players that joining the proposed league could result in their expulsion from the PGA Tour. Monahan stated at last week’s Players Championship that he is confident in his capacity to administer the PGA Tour’s rules and regulations; a member, who must compete in a minimum of 15 Tour events per year, must obtain releases to compete in “conflicting” tournaments such as the LIV Golf Invitational.
Despite Monahan’s proclamation, Norman believes the leagues can coexist.
Norman explained, “I expected and understood the actions; they planted a giant redwood tree right in our way.” “But you know what? We worked our way around because of the beliefs of the individuals who support this concept.”
“We’re firm believers in the potential of this game.”
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