As the golf world eagerly awaits the PGA Tour and DP World Tour’s next move following the Asian Tour’s knockout announcement that 25 high profile names had been confirmed for the 2022 Saudi International, its ringleader Greg Norman has been busy landing a few more jabs.

Golf Saudi officials sent out a press release overnight trumpeting a list of 25 top players – including Australia’s Adam Scott, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele – who they say have committed to playing at Royal Greens Golf Club near Jeddah.

While a decision on whether the players will be granted a release by their respective tours has yet to be made, Norman praised the playing group for “standing up for their rights” as his elongated push for global expansion gathers speed.

In a letter seen by Australian Golf Digest, Norman thanked the 25 players for “taking a positive and important step in changing the way in which professional bodies should reduce controls that limit the game’s ability to flourish at a truly global level.”

The full letter, sent to players this morning, reads:  

I want to share my undivided support and endorsement for the stance taken in announcing your participation in the Saudi International.

You are standing up for your rights, as professional athletes, and for what is right and best for the global development of the sport of golf.

Whilst you may not be aware, this has been a long-standing issue for the world’s best players – seeking the ability to play as far and as wide as they choose to maximise their value, without threat of penalty or otherwise – and today is a positive and important step in changing the way in which professional bodies should reduce controls that limit the game’s ability to flourish at a truly global level.  

Without this change, you will never realise your individual and collective value, or elevate the game to the levels it deserves. Simply put, the anticompetitive threats and actions these professional bodies have taken are designed to prevent fair competition, limit the game’s growth, and harm your ability to realise your true value.
I wanted to reach out directly to share the respect I have for you and the strength of your actions, and also to voice the level of support you have from so many sectors of the industry, who are greatly encouraged by your leadership and the new horizons in golf’s future.  

As CEO of LIV Golf Investments, you have my full support and backing. Keep playing hard.

Yours sincerely, Greg.
Greg Norman
CEO – LIV Golf Investments

When the European Tour dropped the Saudi event from its schedule earlier this year, the tournament was absorbed by the Asian Tour after Golf Saudi purchased a significant interest in the tour. It is being billed as the tour’s flagship event and is offering a purse of $U5 million.

It does not appear that any of the players listed as committed to the Saudi event have been given releases from their respective tours to play in the competition. A spokesperson for the DP World Tour, when reached by Golf Digest, had no comment about the status of the waivers. A spokesperson from the PGA Tour noted: “We have not granted any conflicting event releases for the Saudi International tournament. Per PGA Tour regulations, a decision on conflicting event releases can be made up until 30 days before the event’s first round.”

Should the tours not provide waivers and the golfers choose to compete anyway in the event, it will be a test of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour’s resolve regarding whether they would follow through with any sanctions against the players. And that would then raise the legal questions of can the tours restrict players schedules and access to non-PGA Tour and DP World Tour events.

Potentially, this event could prove a test for Golf Saudi to see whether the threats of disciplinary action would be acted on at all. If those threats prove to be less of a deterrent than originally believed, it could push Golf Saudi, through its newly formed LIV Golf Investments company, to sign several of these players to contracts that would commit them to play in a new Asian Tour affiliated series of events unveiled last month when Norman was named CEO. – additional reporting by Ryan Herrington