Greg Norman added fuel to the fire with his presentation of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, downplaying the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi with the phrase, “We all made mistakes.”
The Australian promoted the $20 million (€23.7 million) inaugural 48-player event at the Centurion Club less than 24 hours after the PGA Tour denied conflicting event clearances to some 30 players to compete in London from June 9-11.
Norman is reluctant to discuss politics and Saudi Arabia, which he says has given LIV Golf an additional $2 billion to fund the new Rebel tour.
“Look, we’ve all made mistakes and you just want to learn from those mistakes and how to correct them in the future,” he said of the murder of US citizen Khashoggi. “And what happened to (Jamal) Khashoggi is reprehensible. Stand by it, talk about it.”
The Australian denies he “must answer” “MBS” – Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s authoritarian ruler – whose public investment fund backs LIV Golf’s bid to launch a 14-event global league by 2024.
“I didn’t have a single personal connection to MBS; I’ve never met the guy,” Norman said.
With the PGA Tour refusing to issue conflicting event clearances for the London event planned opposite the RBC Canadian Open where Rory McIlroy defends, it remains to be seen what will happen with potential “rebels” like Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood or Ian Poulter happened.
If they serve up anyway, they will be breaking tour rules and face fines or suspensions, with the DP World Tour likely to follow if they also refuse to grant clearances.
“If we have 15 people going there and playing, it hurts RBC and the Canadian Open,” Masters champion Scottie Scheffler said before the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas.
“No one is stopping anyone from doing that, but I think everyone agrees that the decision that was made yesterday is the best for the tour,” added Will Zulatoris.
The gloves are clearly off and Norman is ready to fight for his players in court, telling them: ‘We’ve got your back. We will defend them, we will compensate them and we will represent them.”
As for the AT&T Byron Nelson, world No. 41 Séamus Power will be joined by Kinsale’s John Murphy at Dallas’ TPC Craig Ranch 12 months after arriving there without a win and fearing a return to Q-School before a tie for ninth place heralded the beginning of a rich vein of form.
He will be warming up for the PGA Championship in Tulsa next week, while 2008 Wanamaker Trophy winner Pádraig Harrington will try to get his first seniors to win a major when he takes on Darren Clarke at the Regions Tradition in Alabama connects.
With Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow playing the LPGA Tour’s Cognizant Founders Cup in New Jersey and Jonny Caldwell, Niall Kearney and Cormac Sharvin playing the DP World Tour’s Soudal Open in Belgium, the Flogas Irish Amateur Open begins today at The Island.
Ireland are targeting a ninth home win in the last 11 editions and while the field lacks notable visitors, Castle’s Robert Moran, West of Ireland champion Alan Fahy or runners-up Liam Nolan can have their names engraved on the trophy.
Douglas’ two-time champion Peter O’Keeffe, 40, is looking for form ahead of his title defense and is hoping for help from the elements.
“The windier and rainier and bleaker, the better for me,” O’Keeffe said. “I’m going to enjoy this, but some guys seem to be struggling.”
Aramco Team Series, 7.0
Soundal Open, 12.0
Byron Nelson, 12:45 p.m
Cognizant Founders Cup, 3.30
(All on Sky Sports)
https://www.independent.ie/sport/golf/greg-norman-vows-to-back-liv-golf-rebels-in-legal-battle-41641237.html Greg Norman vows to support LIV Golf rebels in legal battle