If you haven’t heard already, Greg Norman has been named as CEO for LIV Golf Investments; the Saudi Arabian funded company trying to create a new breakaway professional golf league.
As reported by Doug Ferguson, the entity will inject a lot of money into the Asian Golf Tour and lure the world’s best players to play in a 10-tournament golf league with a team element part of the format. And Ferguson outlined just where the money comes from:
Most of the funding for LIV Golf Investments comes from the Public Investment Fund, the investing arm of Saudi Arabia chaired by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Still to be determined is whether this was the first step toward rumblings of a Saudi-backed “super league,” in which top players are offered as much as $50 million to be part of a team concept. Various iterations of the team concept have been trying to gain traction for nearly a decade, picking up momentum in the last two years.
The difference with this new proposal (apart from the fact they now have Greg Norman as the face of it) is that it’ll be a redesign of the already existing, recognised Asian Tour – with a whole lot more money in it. As a previously recognised tour, players will still be able to earn world rankin points.
Australian Golf Digest’s Brad Clifton reported exclusively that Norman has Australia as part of the world tour plans:
“It would be delinquent of me, as the CEO of LIV Golf investments, not to give Australia an equal opportunity to host an event in some way, shape or form,” Norman says. “That’s not to say there won’t be a host of other stakeholders putting their hand up too. But there’s huge potential in Australia. I’m obviously very patriotic.”
I’ve resisted mentioning all of this until now as the sands are shifting quickly on proposed world golf leagues with most ideas coming and going. We of course have has the Premier Golf League idea, and this Saudi-backed one has been trying to get off the ground for some time.
But the idea of a Saudi Arabian backed anything isn’t palatable to anyone who knows anything about the current regime .
These aspects have been put to Norman and Norman’s bizarre comments to Golf Digest’s Dan Rapaport:
“You walk into a restaurant and there are women. They’re not wearing burqas – they’re out playing golf.”
Greg Norman pushed for a world golf tour back in the 1980’s and is often pressed on the idea many decades later. Some think Norman would still like to get back at the PGA Tour for eventually scuttling his idea.
But these recent comments were like a red rag to a bull to many, including Sydney Morning Hereald’s Peter Fitzsimons:
I know, I know. You think that quote is just too good to be true!
You think it must have been The Chaser that came up with that quote as satire, don’t you?
Well, more fool you.
Greg Norman said that! He actually said that. Look it up.
All that stuff about women having no rights in Saudi Arabia?
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the world number 5 ranked women’s golfer, Australia’s Minjee Lee is playing the Saudi Ladies International this week and told AAP that they must cover their legs during the tournament, despite the gruelling heat.
“It’s just disrespectful for religious purposes to show your skin,” the Australian No.1 told AAP before Thursday’s first round at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.
“We have to cover our legs so we don’t show too much skin so it just feels like we’re in like body suits in really hot heat.
“(Dress) below the knees for women. No sleeveless (tops), no shoulders showing.
“It’s just a respect thing but it does feel hot.”