Jack Nicklaus has revealed he twice shunned Saudi bids of more than $100m to be the face of the rebel circle before the kingdom turned to Greg Norman.
An 18-time major winner who ranks alongside Tiger Woods as the greatest male player of all time, Nicklaus, 82, would have been a stunning appointment to officiate the $255 million LIV Golf Invitational Series, which begins with its first $25 million even in St. Albans in three weeks.
But despite close ties with Saudi Arabia – he is currently designing a course near Riyadh funded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – Nicklaus rejected the advances and the Saudis appointed the Australian instead.
“I was offered a little over $100 million by the Saudis to do the job, which is probably similar to what Greg is doing,” Nicklaus said. “I turned it down. Once orally, once in writing. I said, ‘Guys, I have to stay on the PGA Tour. I helped start the PGA Tour.”
“The PGA Tour has brought millions of dollars to communities, great competition and great television,” Nicklaus said in an interview earlier this year. “Why shouldn’t I support that? Instead, for my own benefit, will I support seeing 40 guys break away from the PGA Tour at the whim of an ad agency in Saudi Arabia? I do not like it. I don’t think it’s right.”
Nicklaus’ stance has offered ample solace to the traditional powers in sport as they try to stave off the threat, although they may have been troubled by his comments about Donald Trump hosting two of LIV’s golf events at its courses, including the 50th -Million Dollar Event Finale at Trump Doral in Florida. The USPGA, the second major of the season, was due to be played at Trump Bedminster in New Jersey this week, but the PGA of America decided to terminate the contract the day after last year’s storming of the US Capitol.
Norman wasn’t impressed by the reactive move, and neither is likely the R&A, who declined to host an Open at Trump Turnberry in Scotland. Nicklaus supported Trump’s candidacy in the last US election and stands by his friend.
“This step is demolition culture,” said Nicklaus. “Donald Trump may be many things, but he loves golf and he loves this country. He’s a student of the game and an impressive character in the game.”
The move to Southern Hills, Tulsa was welcomed by most. Woods is certainly comfortable at the Oklahoma facility, having won the latest of his four Wanamaker trophies there in 2007.
Woods played nine practice holes again yesterday and said he feels “much stronger” than he did in Augusta, where he made the cut in last month’s Masters in his first competitive event in 17 months after a car accident that nearly cost him his right leg .
Bryson DeChambeau is also in Southern Hills to check on his fitness. The 2020 US Open champion underwent wrist surgery after the Masters and his chances of making it this week initially looked slim. But after a faster-than-expected recovery, the Californian is trying to play.
Telegraph Media Group Limited 
https://www.independent.ie/sport/golf/jack-nicklaus-reveals-he-shunned-100m-saudi-approaches-41656441.html Jack Nicklaus reveals he shunned Saudi $100m approaches