LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman fights battle with PGA Tour, backlash over involvement with Saudis

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Norman’s explanations for doing business with the Saudis have been clumsy at best, but he remains all-in with LIV GolfGetty Images

With the LIV Golf Invitational series kicking off its first event on Thursday, golf is “at war” and LIV CEO Greg Norman is “leading the attack,” according to a profile by Kent Babb of the WASHINGTON POST. “Norman’s default has always been aggression”, a man who “goes for it even when he shouldn’t, and he shows no signs of letting up”. He is one of the “most recognizable and accomplished figures” in golf history, but his “reputation is in tatters”. Norman’s explanations for doing business with the Saudis have been “clumsy at best”, but he “remains on point”. Norman said the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was “reprehensible”, but he “seems genuinely confused by questions about the ethics of his new business”. Norman said: “I’m not into this thing for Khashoggi or anything like that. I am here because of the game of golf. That’s what matters to me. If I focus on the game of golf and don’t get sucked into these other things, that’s my priority. Norman said when he met with LIV’s investment group last year, he “had already done some economic stress testing of LIV’s vision.” Norman said Tiger Woods “turned down a deal that was ‘breathtakingly huge; we’re talking high nine figures “” to be the face of LIV Golf.

GROWING INSULATION: Norman is “more and more isolated”. He “cut his longtime mentor”, Jack Nicklaus, after Nicklaus “reprimanded any series that would compete with the PGA Tour”. Norman, remembering their long discussions and deep friendship, said: “One hundred percent truth? Jack is a hypocrite. When he came out with those comments, I thought to myself: Jack must have a short memory. Nicklaus recently said he was “offered over $100 million to be the public face of LIV.” Norman said Nicklaus “attended a presentation of LIV and then wrote in an email that the new tour had his blessing.” Norman: “He said, ‘It’s good for our game. If it’s good for the game of golf, it’s good for me. “” A Nicklaus spokesperson sent a statement reiterating Nicklaus’ “unwavering support” for the PGA Tour and “wishing Norman well.” With “many of his old friendships gone, controversy driving out most others”, Norman has “hardly anyone to talk to”. Golfer Steve Elkington of Norman’s relationship with Nicklaus said: “I wouldn’t let this escalate. I want you to write that he should go talk to Jack, but I will. But Norman said: ‘In right now, if I pick up the phone with Jack, knowing what happened with the presentation with him before… It would just send the wrong message” (WASHINGTON POST, 6/5).

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