- Norman calls the PGA Tour a ‘monopoly’ that ‘wants to shut us down’
- Two-time Major winner puzzled by sponsors cutting ties with rebel players
- The PGA Tour announced a record $428.6 million purse this week in its latest bid to retain golfers
Greg Norman, the general manager of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tour, has called the PGA Tour a “monopoly” that wants to “shut us up” in the latest war of words between the two rival competitions.
Norman’s comments coincided with the PGA Tour announcing a record purse of US$428.6 million for the 2022/23 season, an increase that will seek to deter more players from joining LIV Golf, which offers US$405 million in prize money across its 14 events.
The PGA Tour also confirmed its plans for a series of limited, uncut events that reflect the LIV Golf model and an enhanced bonus player pool as it seeks to retain its top stars.
LIV Golf has asked its events to offer Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points, but it seems unlikely that its bid will go through at this stage, meaning the series’ wayward players will struggle to win. a place on the starting list of major events in the future.
Talk to FoxNewsNorman was unmoved in his plan to upend the sport, despite significant backlash due to LIV Golf’s ties to Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF) and accusations of sportswashing.
While top players such as Rory McIlroy have remained loyal to the PGA Tour, others including Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson have made the multi-million dollar switch to LIV Golf. The defectors lost several lucrative sponsorship deals, but the marks decision left Norman perplexed.
The two-time Major winner says it “amazes me” that sponsors have dropped golfers for joining LIV Golf over its Saudi Arabia ties, despite making billions of dollars themselves business in the country.
“I think the PGA Tour has about 27 sponsors who do over $40 billion in annual revenue in Saudi Arabia,” Norman said.
“Why doesn’t the PGA Tour call the CEOs of [these businesses] saying we can’t do business with you because you do business with Saudi Arabia? Why are they going after professional golfers? Male professional golfers,” he continued.
Norman added that the PGA Tour was unwilling to accept another elite-level US golf tour for fear of losing significant market share.
“It’s a monopoly,” the 67-year-old said. “They just want to shut us down in any way possible.
“So they will use any point of leverage possible.”
Despite this, Norman insisted that the position of the PGA Tour, nor the criticism of American golf fans, would not phase LIV Golf in its expansion efforts.
“[The PGA Tour is] not going to shut us down because the product speaks for itself,” he said. “We have almost daily, we get calls every day from players [saying] ‘I want to come in’.
“The list is growing longer and longer for players who want to come in. Which, again, is a testament to the good white noise.”
Norman maintained he was unbothered by the backlash, describing LIV as “the future of golf”. He added that he sees LIV Golf as an opportunity to boost men’s and women’s play, as well as providing a new way for young people to engage in the sport.
“I love the game so much and want to grow the game of golf and we at LIV see this opportunity not only for men but also for women,” Norman said.
“We at LIV see it for the NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association] and the younger generations. At LIV, we see it as a pathway to opportunities for children to discover a new world.
He continued: “CSR [corporate social responsibility] programs, educational programs, everything that exists that we want to be involved in for golf and to develop the game of golf.
Even amid the ongoing struggle between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour, in addition to the DP World Tour, Norman believes the trio can co-exist and the golf course is big enough to accommodate them all.
“Our model is built 100% around the Gulf ecosystem from the ground up,” he said. “We’re not trying to destroy the PGA Tour or the European Tour. We’re here to work within the ecosystem to show that it’s a big enough space. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry.