Greg Norman has launched an extraordinary broadside at critics of his plans to grow the Asian Tour through a Saudi Arabia-funded new International Series.
Speaking at the unveiling of the new schedule of events today, Norman took the opportunity to blast back at those who have denounced his efforts.
The former world No.1 and his new organisation, LIV Golf Investments, have seen their plans widely condemned, in large part because of their presumed links to Saudi Arabia.
Many have accused Norman and Co. of providing the regime with a platform to conduct so-called ‘sportswashing’, the practice of using a major or prestigious international sport to improve one’s reputation.
Addressing the media from Royal Greens Golf and Country Club this morning, Norman, 66, vehemently rejected those claims.
“We’re not in this for a fight, we’re in this for the good of the game,” said the Australian. “That’s where we’re at. It’s disappointing to be honest, personally disappointing to see some of the attacks that have been taking place unwarrantedly.
“If you pre-judge anybody without knowing the facts, then shame on you, to be honest with you.
“Are you scared of something? What is LIV Golf Investments doing that
you are scared of? Why do you have to have these attacks to the level
they do? Understand the fact that we have always and continued to be
very collaborative and cooperative with any of the institutions right
across the board. We want to work together side by side.”
Appearing to address the PGA Tour and DP World Tour specifically, he added: “There’s a really interesting analogy. There’s a piece of pie,
right? So if these institutions you’re talking about, if a piece of
that pie has disappeared, does the pie get smaller or does the pie get
“We see the piece of pie that we’re taking, the opportunity to
see through the lost opportunity, makes the pie bigger.
“When you look at Facebook, its share price was $3 at one time. Now what
is it? You’ve got to be able to give the ability to sit back and listen
and understand the opportunities to sit side by side for the sport of
golf. Simple as that. It’s all about the game.
“I cannot enforce this enough to anybody: it’s for the betterment of the game. It’s not for the betterment of the
administrations or anything else. It’s the betterment for the players,
the fans, the stakeholders, broadcasters, everybody across the board.
“I would encourage them to sit back and say, maybe it’s a good time to sit down and understand if we can work side by side.”
— Asian Tour (@asiantourgolf) January 31, 2022
Norman believes that by increasing the playing opportunties and prize funds on the Asian Tour, he will help to awaken a ‘sleeping giant’.
“We’ve given another pathway,” he said. “We’ve given another opportunity for
corporations, players, everybody across the board to see that fair and
equal competition is there to be had.
years, I’ve been involved with the game of golf. I’ve been involved with
these institutions that you’re probably referencing. That was my only pathway. You only had one choice to make. You
either had to go there or you had nowhere. That’s great. That’s what we had to deal with.
“But now there’s different pathways and if LIV Golf
Investments allows the Asian Tour to get elevated through the
International Series, God bless competition, right?”
Norman’s comments were echoed by the CEO of the Asian Tour, Cho Minn Thant.
“We’ve been vilified as bad boys in the press over the last few months, and I really think it’s unjustified,” he said. “Any tour that’s out there for the members has a responsibility to its membership to look at sponsorship and partnership opportunities to improve our tour.
“The European Tour worked with DP World to title sponsor their tour. I don’t see us working with LIV Golf Investments or any other promoter, any other sponsor throughout the course of the season, as a bad thing.
“I’m out here to increase the number of playing opportunities for
our members. I’m here to increase the amount of prize money that’s on
offer. I’m here to improve the awareness and the experience for the
fans of golf in Asia, and I think this is exactly what we’re doing.”