April 15, 2022
Greg Norman is not going quietly.
The "Shark" remains committed to starting a new golf tour offering huge purses with events played around the world.
By now you know the story of Phil Mickelson's support for the concept and Phil's comments about doing business with the Saudi government. Those comments have sent Mickelson into hibernation and likely the PGA has quietly suspended him from playing in any events. It's their way of showing him their power and at some point will let Phil back out on the course and guys like Tiger and Rory will play a role in easing back onto the course.
As for Greg Norman? He plows ahead with plans for the eight event tour that will offer $225M in purses.
The LIV Golf Invitational Series(Norman doesn't want it called the Super Golf League or the Saudi Golf League) will play its first ever event in early June in London. Norman recently said in an interview that two former world number one players and former Ryder Cup heroes will be in the field. Some speculate those names could be Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood. Bubba Watson has been a name some say was part of Norman's field but Watson sent out a tweet recently showing his playing schedule for the next several months and it would appear he will not be part of Norman's plan.
My guess is there are several PGA stars who either signed on to play on this new tour or were very close to signing and Norman allowed those players to walk away quietly realizing it would benefit no one if he and his legal team went public about signed contracts and it would be bad for business.
Norman believes money will eventually lead to some of the world's best players to play in his events. Each event, a three round tournament that features single and team competition, offers a purse of $25M.
The PGA strongly opposes Norman's new tour as they did back in 1994 when Norman tried this offering $3M purses pitting the top 30 golfers in the world in select events. Do you know why the PGA Tour didn't like it? Because they didn't have a piece of it. But Norman's idea then gave you what is now known as the World Golf Championship events. The PGA is ok with the WGC events because they are involved.
Norman believes there is no legal ground for the PGA Tour to ban a player from playing in a non-PGA event and as long as a PGA player plays in the minimum number of events required to keep your card, why should care or stand in the way?
But for all the criticism Norman and Mickelson have received for being part of anything connected to the Saudi government, maybe the PGA should look in the mirror.
The PGA European Tour kicks off its season in Abu Dhabi with an event sponsored by HSBC. HSBC is one of the largest banks in the UAE. The UAE that doesn't receive the highest ratings when it comes to human rights. UAE, the place where women can get a driver's license after receiving permission from their male partner. The second stop on the PGA European Tour is in Dubai. In fact, the first four events of this tour are played in the UAE(United Arab Emirates). Take a moment and do a search on human rights and government control in the UAE. Why is it ok for the PGA Tour to hold events there but Greg Norman is the bad guy for taking money from the Saudi government?
The PGA European tour had a stop in Qatar in March and will visit China for a tournament in October before their season ending championship held in...Dubai.
Playing a tournament in a country with political and social issues does not mean everyone who lives and works there are bad people. I also do not believe it means you support the government and population on every item for debate. We have had this talk about the NBA doing business in China and others calling for the boycott of goods from China because of their human rights issues. If you believe that's what we should do, then put down your iPhone and most of the goods you use every day.
But the point is the PGA Tour has basically threatened its players with penalties and suspensions if they play in any of these Greg Norman events. It's hypocritical on many levels. I have said for months that many of the points raised by Norman and Mickelson are real issues that PGA players quietly discuss inside the clubhouse. Issues like appearance fees, more media money, the right to own your images and no-cut events are just a few things the PGA Tour knows they must address and changes are likely coming.
Most of what Greg Norman tried to do for almost 30 years was adopted by the PGA Tour. Many of the issues raised by Norman and Mickelson will likely be addressed by the PGA Tour and that's where the rage at times is comical.
If Norman's financial backing was by a sports marketing group in Switzerland, no one would care. I get why there is outrage because of who he's choosing to partner with. Mickelson's comments caused this fire. I believe if Phil had focused on the issues involving the players and the need for change, PGA players might be more vocal and pressure the tour to move quicker, and likely some of the world's best players would have no problem playing in a non-PGA event with a $25M purse if sponsored by Swiss Chocolates.
But before the PGA Tour tries to drop the hammer on any of its players for the thought of playing somewhere, hold up a mirror and check your morality meter...
Final note: Portland, New Jersey, Boston and Chicago are the LIV Golf Invitational Series events to be held in this country...if these tournaments are even played.