Charl Schwartzel won the opening event in Hertfordshire earlier this month; At least 20 PGA Tour members have now committed to competing in the LIV Golf tournaments, with many resigning from their membership
Last Updated: 19/06/22 7:28pm
Greg Norman has accused the PGA Tour of “deafening” hypocrisy over its reaction to the launch of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.
The inaugural event took place at the Centurion Club last week, with former major winners Dustin Johnson and Phi Mickelson among the 48-man field, while seven more tournaments are scheduled over the coming months.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan confirmed that any player competing at any event on the rival circuit would be indefinitely suspended, a move described as Norman as “vindictive” and something that “deepens the divide between the Tour and its members”.
Monahan shut down during last week’s interview at the RBC Canadian Open the suggestion that the LIV Golf series supported the growth of the game, while Norman has questioned the argument that the new breakaway circuit is funded by “blood money”.
“I’m disappointed people go down that [blood money] path, quite honestly,” Norman told Fox News, before going on to argue that the PGA Tour is also benefitting from Saudi Arabia. “Look, if they want to look at it in prism, then why does the PGA Tour have 23 sponsors doing 40-plus billion dollars’ worth of business with Saudi Arabia?
“Why is it okay for the sponsors? Why is it okay that there’s a Saudi sponsor, Aramco, the largest sponsor of women’s golf in the world? Why is it okay for them? Why is it not okay for these players? Will Jay Monahan go to each and every one of those CEOs of the 23 companies that are investing into Saudi Arabia and suspend them and ban them?
“The hypocrisy in all this, it’s so loud. It’s deafening. And really, we’re not going anywhere, we want to do what’s right for the fans, for the players, and for our commercial business model.
“We are going to forge forward. And there’s been a lot of obstacles, no question about it. There’s been a lot of obstacles that the PGA Tour’s thrown in our path. But you know what? We’ve worked around it because golf is a force for good.”
Norman confirmed that the series is in the process of applying for Official Golf World Rankings (OWGR) status, although insists that offering world ranking points and maintain major status for players isn’t a necessity to make LIV Golf take off.
“No, it would not destroy it,” Norman added. “It’s a very compelling application, we’ve worked very closely with the technical committee understanding all the components of what you need to do to apply for it.
“It’s going to be interesting, because on the board that votes on the OWGR points is Jay Monahan. It will be interesting to see how Monahan recuses himself from that vote because of what he said on television with Jim Nantz the other day.
“It’s really sad to be putting that additional exerting pressure on it because our Tour is a good tour, the support is getting an incredible field. If we get the OWGR points everything else takes care of itself.”
Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed are among the players already confirmed to play the second event in Portland later this month, with further PGA Tour stars expected to feature in future tournaments, with the circuit generating differing views from many of the world’s top players.
Graeme McDowell is among the players to have resigned from their PGA Tour membership to join the Saudi-funded series, with the former US Open champion critical of how the circuit is being portrayed by the golfing world.
McDowell was sent a post that said: “Nobody is going to watch a washed up group of money hungry old men play an exhibition.” The Northern Irishman replied: “Watch this space. It will be a compelling field in no time.
“There is room for [sic] the sport for this product. Once the smear campaign dies down and the golf takes over, we will see.”
What next for the LIV Golf Invitational Series?
Pumpkin Ridge GC in Portland from June 30-July 2 and Trump National Golf Club Bedminster from July 29-31 are the next two host venues, with further US-based tournaments taking place in Boston from September 2-4 and Chicago from September 16-18.
Stonehill Golf Club in Bangkok is the venue from October 7-9 and Royal Greens Golf Club – the site of the Saudi International in recent years – hosts the following week, with the season-ending Team Championship then hosted at Trump National Doral Miami from October 27-30.