Greg Norman believes the Saudi-backed investment into the Asian Tour shows his commitment to growing the game of golf.
Norman, the winner of two major championships in his career, was recently named as the commissioner of a new Saudi-backed golf league.
He is also the CEO of LIV Golf Investments, an organisation that will set in motion an injection of $200 million into the Asian Tour, setting up 10 marquee events over the next 10 years.
LIV Golf Investments is associated with the Public Investment Fund which represents the Saudi Arabian government. Norman has come under heavy criticism in recent months due to the questionable human rights record of this regime.
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Speaking at the QBE Shootout which he hosts, Norman complimented the huge investment into a tour that has never experienced such support.
"What we’ve done already is an indication of our commitment to the game of golf through the Asian Tour investment," said Norman.
"I can’t remember the last time anybody wanted to come out and invest a couple hundred million dollars into an Asian tour, a tour in general from the outside.
"I think that’s a testament to our commitment of where we want and how we want the game of golf to grow."
The Public Investment fund has previously been accused of sports-washing with this sizeable investment in the Asian Tour, but figures such as Norman maintain that the global growth of the sport is their main priority.
Yesterday, LIV Golf Investments announced Atul Khosla as its COO. Khosla used to be chief corporate development and brand officer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL. He was also COO of the MLS’ Chicago Fire.
Since the developments with the Saudi-backed golf league, the PGA Tour have announced that prize money will increase in the 2022 season, no doubt a strategy to retain their players next year.
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In November, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson were named on a list of provisional entries for the Saudi International in February.
Players need to receive a release from the PGA Tour in order to play. It should be noted that the Saudi International is not part of Norman's tour.
The Australian also alluded to his experience in course design in Asia as a reason for heading up a new Saudi-backed golf league.
"I see what has been needed there. I see the development of the game of golf, and all through the Pacific Rim there, specifically Vietnam. I see it in Thailand, I see it in Singapore, I see it in Japan," Norman added.
"We’ve got Hideki Matsuyama, who used to be the Asian amateur, now the US Masters champion. I just want to be able to allow these players more of an opportunity to get the growth and the development they do need to be where they want to be.
"Be a Hideki Matsuyama coming through the Asian ranks and coming up and winning a major championship let alone the US Masters."
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