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Greg Norman promises to 'defend' players who bolt for LIV series

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Published in Golf
Wednesday, 11 May 2022 07:21

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman vowed to “defend, reimburse and represent” any player who faces potential discipline for playing in the inaugural event of the breakaway series.

Speaking at a media day Wednesday in London – where his startup league is set to launch next month with a $25 million, 48-man tournament – Norman said that he was undeterred by the PGA Tour’s decision to deny conflicting-event releases for the first Saudi-backed tournament. He had previously called the Tour an “illegal monopoly” and claimed their actions were “anti-golfer, anti-fan and anti-competitive.”

Even without a release, PGA Tour members can still compete in the inaugural LIV event, but they’d face possible sanctions that could include fines, suspensions or, as threatened, lifetime bans. Prior to the Tour’s decision, Norman said that six of the top 50, 19 of the top 100 and 36 of the top 150 players in the world rankings had signed up to play in London.

The PGA Tour has denied waivers for its members requesting to play in the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event next month in London.

When asked by reporters Wednesday whether he had legal teams in place to challenge the Tour’s position, Norman said: “Yes. We are going to back up the players. We are going to be there for them, for whatever that is. We’re ready to go. We don’t want to go, but we’re ready to go. …

“I’ve said to the players: ‘We’ve got your back.’ We will defend, we will reimburse, and we will represent. Simple as that.”

Norman’s rival circuit will stage eight tournaments this year and 10 events in 2023 before the full-blown super league begins with 14 tournaments in 2024 and ’25. Norman announced Tuesday that LIV Golf had received an additional $2 billion from the Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

Though it’s not immediately clear how the Tour’s actions will affect the field strength of the LIV events, Norman said that the league didn’t need a superstar presence to be a success. Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia were among those who publicly disclosed they’d asked for a release.

“If none of the top 20 come, it’s still going ahead,” Norman said. “There is still value in there.”

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