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Greg Norman has labelled Brandel Chamblee, the Golf Channel Analyst and long-time critic of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, a "paid talking bobblehead" in a scathing Q&A with The Palm Beach Post, in which he also called out PGA Tour members for criticising the new venture when their sponsors do business with Saudi Arabia.
When asked about the persistent criticism that Chamblee has directed towards him and LIV Golf, both on and off-air, the Australian responded: "I find it laughable. Has Brandel Chamblee ever been to Saudi Arabia? Has he ever built a golf course in a third world country? He's a paid talking bobblehead. That's all he is. He's got my phone number. He's never picked up a phone and asked me a question. Sadly, you're making yourself look like a jerk. It's like water off a duck's back to me."
The former World No.1 answered in a similar fashion when questioned on the criticism he has received from those inside the ropes on the PGA Tour: "Shame on (those) who create this firestorm of controversy when you look within their own system when they got 23 odd sponsors who do $40-plus billion dollars of business with Saudi Arabia. C'mon, seriously?" he said.
"If you're going to go down this path just be ready to accept you're going to get some stuff coming back your way. And it's not hard to find it. Billy Horschel made this comment about the hypocrisy of the [LIV] players. I'm sorry for Billy for saying that because I've sat down with Billy Horschel, I've talked to him. Just be true to yourself when you're making those comments. Because he has seen what LIV is all about."
The main controversy surrounding the LIV Golf Series is the financial backing from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund. As players continue to receive accusations they are helping sportswash human rights atrocities within the Kingdom, Donald Trump urged them to "take the money" - comments that advocacy group 9/11 Justice said it felt "deep pain and anger" towards given Saudi Arabia's links with the September 11 attacks.
Norman however, insisted the origin of the money is not a concern for him: "I've been to Saudi Arabia. I've been building golf courses in Saudi Arabia. I was part of the internal change in their culture to some small, small degree because golf is a force for good on a global basis."
He added: "It's just insanity to me people sit back and try to hurt the development of the game of golf though political or whatever reasons. It just disappoints me so much because I see the true value of what golf has done on a global basis.
Ahead of what will be the third edition of the LIV Golf Series in New Jersey next week, Norman expressed some sympathy towards the PGA Tour: "I actually feel sorry for them," he said. "They've really hurt themselves by the rhetoric they've been spreading - I've taken the high road.
"OK, you want to say these stupid things, go right ahead. Our business model has stood up to the players and they absolutely love it. Our product has stood up to the players and the fans and they absolutely love it."
The field has been confirmed for the New Jersey event, with three spaces still to be announced. Henrik Stenson is expected to be unveiled as the latest player to join the Series and Norman has insisted the "shop" is closed for the remainder of the year.
With the 48-man roster established for 2022, Norman has insisted that he will "discuss it internally to figure out what needs to be done" if a top-10 player in the Official World Golf Ranking approaches, but will "respect and honour the first movers" and not "disrupt" them.
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James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.
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