Sports

Greg Norman opens up to Post about LIV Golf, ‘blood money’ controversy, PGA Tour fight


Greg Norman sat poolside on Wednesday at Trump Bedminster forward of LIV Golf’s third occasion since its current inception.

The 67-year-old Aussie, a two-time main championship winner whose size of reign because the No. 1 ranked participant on the planet was solely outdone by Tiger Woods, appeared relaxed, glad and effervescent with anticipation for the week as he spoke solely to The Post about an array of matters associated to the controversial Saudi-backed tour.

Norman, the face of LIV Golf as its CEO and commissioner, held no punches again as he spoke about LIV Golf’s place within the ecosystem of the game, the pushback by the PGA Tour, his private battle with the PGA Tour that dates again to the ’90s, the marquee gamers LIV has signed and his personal legacy within the sport. He, too, pushed again at these important about him and the gamers taking the Saudi cash.

Q: How do you are feeling about how shortly LIV Golf has come about and the present momentum the tour has generated?

A: One phrase: Product. We knew how good the product was, due to the enterprise mannequin. It was about getting the product to present itself. In six rounds of golf (the primary two occasions, in London and Portland), have a look at what we’ve completed to change the notion of what LIV was all about. The gamers and the followers have spoken and we couldn’t be happier. Every week, we construct the product higher and higher and higher. That’s our purpose. Our runway is a very lengthy one to preserve constructing, as a result of each week is completely different.

Greg Norman with Donald Trump (r.), Dustin Johnson (second from left) and Bryson DeChambeau (l.) on the LIV Golf pro-am Thursday at Trump Bedminster.
AP

Q: What’s your anticipation about the vitality degree this week taking part in within the New York market?

A: Look, this was a market we had been going to give attention to instantly, as a result of the PGA Tour wasn’t centered on it. They’re not taking part in in New York, New Jersey, Boston, Chicago, which is insane. So, we needed to ensure that we introduced our product to this market, and New York Metropolis is clearly the house of the CEOs and the institutional cash. So, it was logical that we get right here prior to later.

Q: What do you assume the ambiance at Trump Bedminster will likely be like?

A: Going into Portland (the second occasion) I used to be nervous because of all the white noise, and it simply turned out to be white noise. Coming right here it’s just a little bit completely different as a result of it’s President Trump’s property. I used to be extra nervous for Portland than London (the primary occasion) simply due to the sentiment from the senator (Oregon Senator Ron Wyden) and the way he was going towards us — for all improper causes.

(Editor’s observe: Final month, Wyden accused the Saudi authorities of sportswashing, telling the Associated Press, “It’s just a page out of the autocrats’ playbook covering up injustices by misusing athletics in hopes of normalizing their abuses.”)

Greg Norman (r.) with Jared Kushner on Thursday at Trump Bedminster.
Greg Norman (r.) with Jared Kushner on Thursday at Trump Bedminster.
Daniel William McKnight

Q: Are you stunned by what number of prime gamers, comparable to Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, have signed on already?

A: The reply isn’t any, as a result of the variety of conversations I’ve had with all the highest gamers and their understanding of my mindset from three completely different classes — a participant’s class, a brand-building class and from a CEO’s class. From a participant’s class, they knew I had their again. For 45 years, I went by means of each piece of crap these gamers are going by means of, as a result of there was just one establishment within the sport (the PGA Tour) and it was so unfair on us, on the gamers. So, I’m like a canine with a bone from a participant’s perspective.

Q: What’s your response to the criticism that has come about taking cash from Saudi Arabia, which has such poor human rights data and coverage?

A: We aren’t a political group. We’re right here to play golf, serve followers, develop the sport, and provides further alternatives to gamers. I even have seen first-hand the great that golf can do around the globe, and Saudi Arabia isn’t any completely different.

Q: What do you say to the households of the 9/11 victims who’ve accused LIV Golf of taking “blood money,” citing that 15 of the 19 hijackers had been from Saudi Arabia?

A: I provide my deepest sympathy to the households of 9/11. My coronary heart goes out to anybody affected by that tragedy. Whereas some could not agree, I proceed to imagine that golf is a power for good around the globe, and that features Saudi Arabia.

Greg Norman with Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and their children on Thursday.
Greg Norman with Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and their youngsters on Thursday.
Daniel William McKnight

Q: For the reason that begin, you’ve insisted the mission has not been about taking the PGA Tour down, however wanting to work with them. Do you continue to see a coexistence between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour with compromise on each side?

A: 100%. Now we have no intention to strive to destroy the PGA Tour. Each step of the best way we’ve constructed our mannequin to work inside the ecosystem and provides everyone the chance to work inside that ecosystem. It’s professional golf. There’s such a easy answer, it’s ridiculous. I can’t speak about it, as a result of it’s a course of we’ve gone by means of with our authorized staff understanding every thing that’s within the guidelines and laws. But it surely’s not a tough repair, it’s actually not. And the longer they do it (droop gamers), the much less we’re fearful about it as a result of we’ve extra folks coming in and wanting to make investments.

Q: The largest adverse to that is the most effective gamers within the sport have turn into separated due to the PGA Tour suspensions. Is {that a} concern of yours?

A: It’s break up now due to the best way the PGA Tour put the stake on the bottom. If the PGA Tour got here to us after we reached out to them to perceive what our enterprise mannequin is, stroll them by means of it, we wouldn’t be on this place. Like in any enterprise deal, you sit down and also you see what they’ve to provide. “OK, I like all of it, I like some of it, I don’t like any of it.’’ If you don’t like any of it, it’s, “OK, how do we work to fix it?” I’m not that skilled at enterprise, however I’ve by no means seen anyone strategy it like this. So, if (PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan) had completed it to start with, he would have seen many, many alternatives.

Q: Relating to Monahan, are you continue to as prepared now as you had been then to work with the PGA Tour?

A: If he needs to come and sit down proper right here proper now, I’d sit down with him and say, “OK Jay, what’s your problem? What are your issues?”

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan
Getty Photographs

Q: Is there part of you that’s stunned that Monahan and the PGA Tour didn’t take LIV Golf extra severely?

A: You’ve bought to bear in mind, I’ve bought their playbook from ’94-95 (when Norman tried to begin a world tour). They’ve nearly performed it again to the T. It’s nearly equivalent. It’s nearly a mirror, step-by-step — even to a remark they made about the DOJ (Division of Justice, which introduced lately it’s investigating the PGA Tour for its suspension of gamers who’re taking part in in LIV occasions), saying, “We’ve done this before and we’re confident we can do it again.” It’s a completely completely different world right this moment than it was again then. And, oh, by the best way, there’s one one who’s been in the course of it twice now and is aware of the playbook, and that’s me. What they did in ’94 (thwart Norman in beginning a world tour), they assume they will do once more. We’ll see the way it performs out.

Q: What had been the issues PGA Tour did in ’94 to thwart your efforts to begin a world tour?

A: Lobbying. When the FTC (Federal Commerce Fee) investigated the PGA Tour again then, they interviewed me and I instructed them precisely what I needed to do and the way I needed to embody the gamers and get them fairness and gamers had been nonetheless going to play on the PGA Tour and that it wasn’t one or the opposite. The FTC on the time voted 4-0 to examine the PGA Tour. [The commissioner Tim] Finchem went to the Hill (Capitol Hill in Washington. D.C.) and lobbied. He was a lobbyist (marketing campaign chairman) for [former Presidential candidate Walter] Mondale.

Q: What’s your information of what the PGA Tour is doing now to fight LIV Golf?

A: We all know now that the PGA Tour is lobbying the Hill exhausting proper now. We even understand how a lot cash they’re spending. It labored for them up to now and so they’re hoping it’s going to work for them now. If they need to fireplace a serve throughout the online at me at 140 [mph], it’s coming again at them at 150. It’s coming again at you, man. It ain’t a block. It’s ain’t a slice. It’s coming again at you more durable and also you higher have your s–t collectively.

Q: What’s your confidence about the result of the DOJ investigation?

A: It’s exhausting to say. They’ve bought to undergo their course of. We really feel very, very, superb about our place and our case and our rights. The product is talking for itself.

Q: What do you make of the notion that since you tried to begin that world tour within the ’90s, preventing Deane Beaman and Tim Finchem, this can be a continuation of vendetta?

A: Look, that’s a very simple, shallow remark to make. It’s a straightforward out. This complete notion about me and Finchem, Beaman and Monahan, is it true? Yeah, to a level it’s true, as a result of I did problem them on participant rights.

Q: What drives you most about your involvement in LIV Golf?

A: Possibly my legacy is that this, not what I did on the golf course. What I did on the golf course gave me the chance to see this opportunity and allowed me to do that.

Q: What’s your tackle the public berating Phil Mickelson has taken since becoming a member of LIV Golf?

A: Properly, they wanted a piñata, proper? The adverse folks wanted somebody to take a swing at. Clearly, the factor that was written (by author Alan Shipnuck in what Mickelson mentioned was a “private conversation” — which Shipnuck denied — throughout which he called the Saudis “scary motherf–kers” and saying he was utilizing LIV as leverage towards the PGA Tour) that was one of many greatest obstacles ever thrown at (Mickelson). I really feel sorry for Phil, I really feel sorry it bought on the market. I really feel sorry for Phil if it’s in any manner true, then he put himself in a very robust place. And I’m comfortable for Phil, as a result of he understood the worth of what LIV may do for him and the place he needed to go and have a look at the long run. He was polarizing with the Tour as a result of he realized his market worth was underutilized.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson
Getty Photographs

Q: What’s your relationship with Mickelson?

A: It wasn’t an in depth relationship earlier than he signed on. Since he’s come on board, he’s engaged, he’s in. Phil sends me lengthy checks and thanks me. On a communicative degree, he’s most likely in contact greater than every other participant.

Q: Can LIV Golf ever recreate the drama the large tournaments produce, the best way they matter, notably within the ultimate rounds?

A: We’ll construct into it. It’s similar to the transition of the Ryder Cup. When it was UK towards the US, it was a butcher present. It wasn’t even a contest. After they opened it up to develop to the European gamers, it grew to become a contest and the Ryder Cup took off.

Q: How necessary is it to LIV that one of many marquee stars wins an occasion, possibly even this week?

A: After all, we wish that. It’s going to occur. It’s like how nice it will have been if one of many LIV gamers received the (British) Open. They’ll win, and after they do win it’ll go up one other degree.

Donald Trump (l.) and Greg Norman (r.) on Thursday.
Donald Trump (l.) and Greg Norman (r.) on Thursday.
AP

Q: There are fixed rumors of extra gamers coming to LIV as soon as the PGA Tour season is full, including Bubba Watson. What do you see your roster trying like in two months?

A: There’s extra stuff coming. The easiest way for me to reply that’s we wouldn’t have put the announcement out right this moment about launching the league (in 2023) if there wasn’t a really clear indicator of how stable we really feel about the gamers we’ll have going into subsequent 12 months.

Q: How do you see the World Rating factors scenario unfolding, with all the key figures on the board being heads of organizations which can be anti-LIV (PGA Tour, USGA, PGA of America, R&A, Augusta Nationwide)?

A: That’s a great query. The one that’s on the helm is extraordinarily clever and understanding about rising the sport of golf — Peter Dawson (the previous head of the R&A). He will get it. Peter and I’ve had open discussions about this. I flew to Scotland to sit down and have dinner with him. He has our utility, so he’ll undergo the proper course of to get it there. We introduced up recusing Mohahan and (Keith) Pelley (the DP World Tour commissioner) and (Martin) Slumbers (who heads the R&A) and everyone who’s had a adverse remark about LIV, and so they can’t vote. They’ll’t. From an OWGR (Official World Golf Rankings) standpoint, if I’m in (Dawson’s) footwear, I’m getting unbiased authorized recommendation.

Q: Everyone seems to be ready for Augusta Nationwide to weigh in, but their prime man, Fred Ridley, has been silent.

A: I spoke to Fred Ridley. They’ve weighed in fairly exhausting towards (LIV). The majors ought to keep Switzerland, they’ve a accountability for one occasion, not a league. But it surely additionally tells you is there a cabal there? That is the slippery slope you go down about what LIV is beginning to expose.



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