Greg Norman confident LIV Golf Invitational Series will be a success

Greg Norman confident LIV Golf Invitational Series will be a success

Greg Norman confident LIV Golf Invitational Series will be a success

Former Australian golfer Greg Norman and CEO of LIV Golf Investments. (Credits: AFP)

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Golf is in upheaval as it prepares for a new Saudi-backed breakaway tour, but despite a slew of unresolved difficulties, figurehead Greg Norman is confident it will be a success.

This year’s LIV Golf Invitational Series will have eight events, however, no player names have been released.

There are also questions about television partnerships and if ranking points will be awarded.

When Norman faced the press in Britain last week, he was questioned about worries regarding Saudi support for the upcoming tour.

The US PGA Tour has drawn battle lines, refusing to release members for next month’s opening event in England, which coincides with the PGA’s Canadian Open.

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The DP World Tour, formerly known as the European Tour, has been more evasive, saying it is “evaluating each request on a case-by-case basis.”

Former world number one Norman, now the CEO of LIV Golf Investments, has accused the US PGA Tour of “perpetuating its illegal monopoly on a free and open market.”

Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson and former world number one Lee Westwood have applied to compete in the first LIV event at the Centurion Club in St Albans, south of London, and Sergio Garcia’s name is also said to be in the running.

Others, including world number two Jon Rahm and four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, have rejected the new golf circuit as players meet in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the PGA Championship.

Norman, a two-time British Open champion, is unconcerned about the absence of guaranteed celebrity names just weeks before the 54-hole competition, which runs from June 9 to 11.

 

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Superstars

The Australian feels that the top players will flock to the new tour in the long run, but that it does not require them to be a success right away.

“If none of the top 20 wanted to come in, we’re still going to go ahead,” he said.

“There’s still value in there. Imagine if that 15-year-old kid TK (Thai golfer Ratchanon “TK” Chantananuwat)… came in and won if he’s playing here if he won the first event.

“He’s the next superstar. We’re giving that opportunity to that kid or an amateur to come in here to have that opportunity.”

Norman stated that he had spoken with “50 to 60 players” who were beginning to understand their rights as independent contractors to play anywhere they pleased.

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He insists he is not looking for a confrontation, but he is preparing for a legal battle and has promised to pay fines to gamers if required.

The LIV Series has no shortage of cash, with a whopping $25 million in prize money up for grabs at each regular-season event, where players will compete both individually and in teams.

The LIV Series has no shortage of cash, with a whopping $25 million in prize money up for grabs at each regular-season event, where players will compete both individually and in teams.

Norman said last week that the tour had received an additional $2 billion in funding to expand its timetable.

However, the source of that money, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, is causing controversy, with Amnesty International claiming that the tour is yet another example of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record being “sports washed.”

Even as the spectator stands rise at Centurion Club, there are a number of other unknowns, like how golf fans will be able to watch the competition.

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LIV is looking for “wide distribution” online and is in talks with more traditional TV partners, according to chief commercial officer Sean Bratches, a former managing director of commercial operations at Formula One.

“We don’t have any deals signed because we’re right out of the gate,” he said. “When we sign a deal we’ll announce it.”

There’s also the tricky issue of ranking points: will top-level golfers be content to compete in competitions that provide no points?

There’s also the tricky issue of ranking points: will top-level golfers be content to compete in competitions that provide no points?

Even though chief operating officer Atul Khosla stated that tour heads had met with world-ranking officials, there is no clear solution.

“I don’t know that we will get it for the first event because of the nature of how long it takes for the application to go through and the process one needs to undertake,” he said.

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“But we are hopeful that we can get them for this year onwards.”

 

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