LIV Golf's Greg Norman swats away MBS question: "No, I have not!"

LIV Golf's Greg Norman had a robust answer to this reporter's question. 

Ben Smith's picture
Thu, 20 Apr 2023
LIV Golf's Greg Norman swats away MBS question: "No, I have not!"

Greg Norman has revealed LIV Golf  is considering a women's circuit as he once again criticised the established tours for putting up 'road blocks' and downplayed the rival league's association with Saudi Arabia. 

Norman, 67, is in Adelaide with the 'rebel' circuit for their first ever event in Australia. 

We are told thousands of fans will be in attendance and Norman was bullish about the circuit when he spoke to the media alongside Cameron Smith on Wednesday. 

He started his week almost making hole-in-one and then made the concession that LIV Golf needed to sign more players. 

Ever since LIV Golf launched last June the breakaway tour has faced accusations of sportswashing

We are sure you know by now that LIV's primary backer is the PIF, the bottomless wealth fund of the Saudi state. 

Norman caused more than a ripple when he spoke about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi last June. His remarks even appeared to lead to the resignation of their first chief commercial officer Sean Bratches. 

Related: Why these LIV players will never be Ryder Cup captains

Fast-forward to April 2023 and Norman still cannot escape questions about this topic. 

He was asked if he has ever had a conversation with Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. 

"No I have not," Norman stated. Why?

Norman said:

"Because I'm the chairman and CEO of LIV Golf Investments, and that's where I focus. I focus on golf. I stay focused on golf. My job is to build out LIV and the product we have on a global front.
"We have nine events in the U.S. and five elsewhere. That's my job. My job is to help Cam and the Rippers and the 11 other team members identify their future value and understand what it is.
"Golf is a force for good. I've been involved with golf, like I said, as a player, as well as golf course design. I've built some golf courses in third-world countries.
"I've built golf courses in communist countries. Golf is a force for good. It goes everywhere with the right platform because it delivers the right message, from education to hospitality to employment to tourism. Everywhere you go, golf is a force for good.
"I'm blessed. I really am blessed that I've found a career and I've found an opportunity, as I look out into the future of my business world, about what golf has given me, this opportunity. I'm here for that reason and that reason only."

"I won't answer on behalf of the players"

It was confirmed before the 87th Masters that the DP World Tour had prevailed in their arbitration case against the LIV Golf players they sanctioned last June. 

Patrick Reed stated he was considering fresh legal action

Norman was asked if the likes of Ian Poulter will now rescind their memberships or appeal?

Where, exactly, are we at?

Norman said:

"Well, I'm not going to go down the legal path and answer questions on behalf of the decision of other players what their decision is. Remember, you use one word there was 'arbitration'. It wasn't a court of law. Arbitration is different. It was a prerequisite of some of the writing in the agreement of how it had to take place. That's arbitration.
"Things will play out as they should rightly play out in a court of law, and that's the way it goes. Like I said, I won't answer on behalf of the other players. You should go up to them and ask them independently and individually if you want.
"But all I can tell you is this: From a LIV perspective, we'll always support our players. We always have said that since day one. We believe in where we're going, and like I've mentioned to you before about our product, and we're going to be unwavering in that commitment. We're going to stay on course on that."

What about the future?

"I truly hope somewhere down the line, like the Masters, and I complimented the Masters about inviting the LIV players in, because the Masters and the majors should be Switzerland, and the DP World Tour wants to have the best players on their Tour, as well, too. The DP World Tour wants to have some of the most iconic players that ever represented Europe in the Ryder Cup on the Ryder Cup.
"You know, as you look into the future with a crystal ball, they've got to make some interesting decisions for themselves, for the players and where we're going to go and what we're going to do.
"LIV is not changing anything, and we've always been consistent for the last 15 months of saying we're happy to sit down with you, we're happy to talk to you.
"We did with the DP World Tour. We've tried with the PGA Tour, consistently with zero, zilch, nothing. That's their choice. If that's your decision, fine, we're okay with that. So we'll just keep going and doing what we're doing.
"Do I in my heart of hearts -- I'll put my player's hat back on and I'll put my representation of the game of golf back on. I do hope there gets to a position where there is resolution to this, because the game of golf doesn't need to suffer. These guys don't need to suffer. OWGR doesn't need to suffer.
"Augusta National recognized that, and look what happened with their ratings when the LIV players came in. It was up 19 percent. Who was the benefactor of that? Augusta National, right?
"So LIV is the force for good, and now guys want to play. They want to play in the majors. You don't think CBS, NBC, you don't think the corporations that sponsor those major championships don't want Cam Smith, the Open champion, in their major tournament?
"Of course they do. It's a crying shame if they take their shallow view of -- caused by LIV, where because of another product they're going to ban these guys? Well, I think Augusta National proved that case point very clearly."

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"We talk about it internally" 

Norman also confirmed LIV Golf are considering a women's tour. 

He said:

"I have personally had discussions with individual LPGA Tour players, LET Tour players, Ladies European Tour. They love what our product is showcasing. They ask all the time, how can we get involved, we'd love to see a LIV ladies series.
"From our perspective -- last year was a beta season. We had eight events. This year was our first season where we're kicking off. We can only drink out of a fire hydrant so much, so we have a lot of opportunities and initiatives coming across our plate.
"Our focus is to make sure this year we produce what we're producing here from day one, 2023, and then going forward we're looking what are the best opportunities to build on to what we have today.
"The answer to the question is yes, we talk about it internally, and I have had discussions with individual lady players, professional players."

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