Greg Norman: Profitable Saudi-backed golf league is ‘new opportunity’ for players, CEO says

Norman explained that he believes that for “golf pioneers,” it can be a game-changing competition.

“If a No. 283 (world-ranked player), who is just touring and playing in Asia, if he comes in and wins $10-15 million, how awesome would that be for him, his family, and golf actually reaching out and giving someone a chance, probably To be a day laborer on some tour out there, to change his life?” Norman said to Davis.

growth

On Wednesday, former world number one Norman announced the formation of the new team-based professional golf league.

The project, backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), pledges to award $250 million in total prize money while hosting eight tournaments, held from June to October.

A press release announcing the series chronicled the events taking place in seven cities around the world: London; Portland, Oregon; Bedminster, NJ; Boston. Chicago; Bangkok; Oujda, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The eighth event – the Tag Team Championship – has no place listed.

Five events occur after the end of the PGA Tour season, but three of them occur at the same time as the events on the DP World Tour.

The Public Investment Fund is a sovereign wealth fund headed by Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and the man described by a US intelligence report as being responsible for approving the operation that led to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Bin Salman has denied involvement in Khashoggi’s murder.

On Saturday, March 12, Saudi Arabia executed 81 men in the largest mass execution in decades. Rights groups have criticized the state for executing people who were minors at the time of the crimes for which they were convicted.

The source of funds behind the new league has prompted commentators to question whether the sport’s best idea would be to find funding from a source with a questionable human rights record.

But when pressed on the country’s human rights record, Norman noted all the good work Saudi Arabia has done to grow golf.

“We are here to develop the game of golf. The money from Saudi Arabia has gone into golf and since 2019 has put Saudi Arabia on Saudi International,” the 67-year-old said.

“That was approved by the European Tour, now the DP World Tour. So the money was there and the other tours were involved in signing these tournaments with Saudi money. Golf is good for the world and golf is good for Saudi Arabia too We have seen that.”

“Saudi Arabia has invested a lot of money in women’s golf. They are the biggest investor in women’s golf today. So when you look at all the facts out there, yes, our investor is Saudi money. I’m proud of that because, like I said, golf is useful. to the world and we will only work to grow golf on a global basis.”

opposition

Rumors about the new project have fueled speculation about which golfers will play in it.

The news that the big-money Saudi League has approached some of the biggest names in golf – including Dustin Johnson and Bryson Deschamps – to be poster boys has caused players to be publicly sacked from the so-called “Premier Golf League”, with both Johnson and Deschamps and Rory McIlroy have all confirmed their commitment to the PGA Tour.

Phil Mickelson, one of the sport’s biggest names, caused controversy in February when he said he would play in the league. He later apologized for his earlier comments, lost several sponsorships due to the controversy and said he would take some time away from golf.

Although it’s unclear which golfers will be competing in the tournaments at the time of writing – Norman said “nobody signed up because it’s an invite and invitations haven’t been sent out yet” – Norman doesn’t think they “will have any trouble attracting the biggest names.”

“We will have no problem reaching the players,” he said. “I bet we have no shortage of players, to tell you the truth.

“It’s a call and the invites will go out and we will gladly make an announcement about which player will play in the near future as we move in. And as I said to the players, if you’re sitting there and you like what you see, apply for a release.

“From the European Tour, from the PGA Tour or whatever, go apply for an edition. You have three editions, you have the right to play according to their rules and regulations today, go do it and enjoy playing.

“So you have three out of eight, and if you only play three, you may not get the chance of the top three singles world championship of $30 million at the end of the year after seven events. The more you play, the higher your chance of catching the group, it’s no different than FedEx brings it to gamers today.”

Existing golf tours – particularly the PGA Tour and DP World Tour – have expressed opposition to the new project.

Norman Davis told CNN they had to fight “white noise” that was “controlled by other entities” to make big strides toward getting off the ground.

The 20-time winner of the PGA Tour wondered what the PGA Tour feared from the new league.

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Johnson talks with DeChambeau near the green at WGC FedEx St.  Jude Invitational.

“There were a lot of obstacles in our way, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “The PGA Tour fell big redwood trees across our path but we spotted it,” he said.

“We’re here for the long haul, I want to give the players a chance to have a better opportunity and more opportunity, and other opportunities to get out there as independent contractors and play golf. Let me ask you this question: What from a PGA Tour standpoint, what are they afraid of, quite frankly, with Giving independent contractors the chance to go out and play extra golf?

“We are 100% add-on to golf. We just want to make golf bigger and better, and we have a lot of evolution in golf, enhancing the entertaining side of things, for the fans, the players, the stakeholders, everyone. So, as players now understand it, it’s a different story. completely “.

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