Greg Norman calls PGA Tour hypocritical regarding Saudi Arabia

BROOKLINE, Mass. — Greg Norman, the commissioner of the LIV Golf Series, has remained fairly quiet during U.S. Open week, but the two-time major winner was interviewed Saturday night on Fox News’ One Nation with Brian Kilmeade. Norman echoed many things he’s said in the past but also announced that the LIV Series is working to make it easier for its players to qualify for major championships going forward.

The USGA announced that it would allow golfers who had qualified to play at The Country Club, and who competed in the first LIV Series event in London, to play in this year’s U.S. Open, but the USGA’s CEO, Mike Whan, said on Wednesday that he could envision scenarios that would make it much harder for LIV Series players to compete in the future. The biggest challenge is LIV Series events do not award Official World Ranking points, but Norman is working on changing that.

“We’re actually applying for OWGR points right now. We’re actually putting in our application probably over the weekend, if not Monday,” he said. “And it’s a very compelling application. We’ve worked very, very closely with the technical committee understanding all the components of what you need to apply for it. And quite honestly, it’s going to be interesting because on the board that votes on the OWGR points for anybody new coming in, here’s Jay Monahan. Now, it’ll be interesting to see if Jay Monahan recuses himself from that vote because of what he said on television with Jim Nantz the other day. So it’s very interesting and it’s sad to be, you know, putting that additional exerting pressure on it because our tour is a good tour. It’s supported, it’s got an incredible field. Our point should be that if we get the OWGR out points, then everything else takes care of itself.”

In the interview, Norman commented on Bob Costas’ recent statement that Norman and the LIV Series players were taking ‘blood money.’

“Look, I’m disappointed people go down that path, quite honestly,” he said. “If they want to look at it in prism, then why does the PGA Tour have 23 sponsors doing 40 plus billion dollars worth of business with Saudi Arabia? Why is it okay for the sponsors? Will Jay Monahan go to each and every one of those CEOs of the 23 companies that are investing into Saudi Arabia and suspend them and ban them?  The hypocrisy in all this, it’s so loud. It’s deafening.”

Norman also pointed out that Saudi Arabia sponsors the Aramco Series, a lucrative four-event set of women’s tournaments. Kilmeade noted that the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (which is investing in the LIV Series) has also invested in Uber, Facebook, Nintendo and Boeing.

“We’re not going anywhere, we want to do what’s right for the fans, for the players and for our commercial business model,” Norman said. “We are going to forge forward. And there’s been a lot of obstacles, Brian, no question about it. There’s been a lot of obstacles the PGA Tour’s thrown in our path, but you know what? We’ve worked around it because golf is a force for good.”

Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 U.S. Open champion, and Patrick Reed, the winner of the 2018 Masters Tournament, recently announced they are planning to play LIV Series events, and rumors swirled at The Country Club this week about other players who might be choosing to play LIV Series events in the days and weeks ahead.

This week, Phil Mickelson was pressed by reporters about his involvement with the Saudi-backed tour and was asked what he had to say to Terry Strada, the national chairperson of 9/11 Families United, who sent the six-time major winner a letter expressing disappointment in his involvement with the LIV Series,

“I would say to the Strada family, I would say to everyone that has lost loved ones, lost friends on 9/11 that I have deep, deep empathy for them,” Mickelson said. “I can’t emphasize that enough. I have the deepest of sympathy and empathy for them.”

Norman says he has no regrets about teaming with Saudi Arabia

“Not at all, because golf is a force for good,” Norman said. “The European PGA Tour, since 2009, had a golf tournament, the Saudi International that’s still in existence since 2019 and during that Saudi International, there were PGA Tour players who were given rights and waivers to go play there. So to me, if golf is good for the world, golf is good for Saudi, and you’re seeing that growth internally, it’s extremely impressive.”

The second LIV Series event is scheduled to run from June 30 through July 2 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside Portland, Oregon.