Keeping an unusually low media profile during the opening events of his LIV Golf Invitational Series, Greg Norman is finally ready to do the talking. 

In a wide-ranging interview with Australian Golf Digest, conducted before and after LIV’s Portland event this month, The Shark explains how professional golf found itself in conflict, what it all means for countries like Australia, and why his second attempt at globalising the pro circuit will end differently to the first. 

A relaxed Norman answered everything, from allegations of sports-washing, to how close ‘those’ Phil Mickelson comments leaked via writer/author Alan Shipnuck came to bringing LIV Golf down, and why Shipnuck was temporarily removed from a media conference during the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational event at Centurion.

Norman also addresses LIV’s bid for Official World Golf Ranking points, why guaranteed paydays won’t diminish the quality of competition, and hits back at Rory McIlroy following the Canadian Open champ’s veiled swipe at Norman after passing the 67-year-old’s 20 PGA Tour victories in June. [SPOILER ALERT: Norman’s advice for Rory is spicy!]

It’s all part of a revealing Q&A, which can be seen in Australian Golf Digest’s August edition, on sale next Thursday. For now, though, here’s a little taste of the one interview you simply can’t afford to miss in 2022.

Norman on accusations of sports-washing being levelled at LIV Golf and Saudi Arabia: “My advice to all the pundits out there is take a trip to Saudi Arabia to see for yourself the cultural changes occurring within the country. They will see that if golf is good for the world, it is good for Saudi Arabia. They are investing in-country as well as globally in the game. LIV Golf Investments has invested more than $US300 million into the International Series in partnership with the Asian Tour. Why is it OK for the LET (Ladies European Tour) and LPGA Tour to have the backing from Aramco – the largest investor in women’s golf – but the men, who want to express their independent rights as free agents, cannot?” 

On the PGA Tour and DP World Tour’s recent announcement that they are working to further strengthen their alliance: “The PGA Tour and DP World Tour certainly seem to be working together against LIV. My ultimate wish in all this is, I would just love to sit down with these guys and walk them through the LIV business model and explain to them what LIV is all about and how it’s ultimately good for the game. Let them see it and understand it instead of making all these decisions in a vacuum. As I’ve said previously, we’ve purposely built our whole business model around working within the current ecosystem of golf, not against it.” 

On whether Greg Norman and Jay Monahan can really sit down for a coffee and collaborate on a new ecosystem for the sport: “Of course. I would gladly sit down and have a coffee with Jay or Keith Pelley to explain our concept. Their reactions are based on LIV being a threat, a breakaway tour. On the contrary, we built our business model from the ground up to work within the game. Frankly, we ask ourselves, “What are they scared of?” Competition is what makes business, sport and the world a better place.” 

On how vital the support of the Majors and the Official World Golf Ranking is to LIV Golf’s quest for legitimacy: “The next, most important step outside of the players is getting OWGR points for our tournaments. We have worked hard to understand and meet the requirements to apply for OWGR points and have submitted our application. I am highly confident with our strength of field – which grows each week with player signings – and our individual format, that it puts us in a very good place to secure official OWGR points. When we officially have OWGR points for all our individual events, everything else looks after itself, which includes the Majors. “

On Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee’s calls for Norman’s World Golf Hall of Fame honour to be revoked: “He is a paid talking head who has never bothered to understand the LIV business model and what it’s doing for the game. Nor does he comprehend golf diplomacy. The art of knowing is knowing what to ignore. I brush aside his drivel and focus on growing the game globally, as I have done as a player, in golf course design and in business.” 

On reports LIV Golf will transition to a league proper from 2023 onwards: “The rumours are true. We’ve closed up shop, as far as our players are concerned. We’re in the process of kicking the league off next year and we’re a full year ahead of schedule. There will be more player announcements before then, but we’re set on the maximum amount of players. It’s interesting, we’re still getting calls from agents of top-40 players in the world wanting to join LIV but it’s too late now. I mean, we’d love to have them all but we can’t get them in. What it tells me, though, is what we’re doing is very appealing to the world’s best players. “

• For the full interview, check out Australian Golf Digest’s August issue, on sale July 28. 



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