Greg Norman Misses Shootout But Event Has His Fingerprints All Over It

Greg Norman will miss the event he started 34 years ago but the QBE Shootout is still an example of what the Australian stands for

Greg Norman at the 2022 LIV Golf Team Championship at Trump National Doral
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Greg Norman will be absent from the QBE Shootout this weekend, as the founder of the event previously known as the Shark Shootout has been asked not to attend for the first time in its 34-year history.

It’s hardly surprising that the man at the forefront of the LIV Golf revolution, which has not only yielded a brand new tournament but a huge divide in the golfing world, not to mention plenty of work for sports lawyers with several lawsuits being filed by both parties.

The event name has already been charged from the Shark Shootout, to reflect Norman’s moniker as The Great White Shark, and it’s no surprise a tournament sanctioned by the PGA Tour will not have their main public enemy number one in attendance at Tiburon Golf Course.

Tournament director Rob Hartman said it was "a very collaborative decision" involving Norman himself that helped come to the decision.

"We sat down months and months ago with him and our corporate partners," Hartman said. "We had several discussions. The decision was made for Greg to step back and really allow the focus to be on our charitable partners."

It’s a tournament that, although not literally anymore, has Norman’s name written all over it – even down to the golf course he designed as “Tiburon” means shark in Spanish and the club logo features a shark fin.

Fans at the 18th green will sit in the Shootout Shark Club while they’ll drive in through Norman Estates before reaching the clubhouse.

The tournament could also be seen as a forerunner to LIV Golf, as it’s a team format played over 54 holes similar to the new tournament created by Norman as his wealthy Saudi Arabian backers.

The continuing battles also mean defending champions Kevin Na and Jason Kokrak will also be missing as they’re banned from PGA Tour events after joining LIV Golf.

Nobody is really surprised by Norman’s absence given how ugly and bitter his feud with the PGA Tour has become, but Steve Stricker, who is playing in his 14th shootout, echoed the sentiments of many by saying how sad the whole situation is.

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"It's just a strange time in golf in general," Stricker said. "Greg has been a fixture with this event.

"It kind of makes me sad to see groups like this fighting in a sport where we're gentlemen, we're supposed to get along, right? Hopefully, they come up with a solution and a common ground."

As for Norman himself, as is becoming common practice he posted on social media in September about not attending the event, and defended himself with typical gusto.

"I have been asked not to attend," he wrote. "Why one might ask? Perhaps it is because I am helping to give golf a new heartbeat, creating new value and delivering a new product that is loved by players, fans and broadcasters alike."

He added he’s "finally giving players their rights as independent contractors" while adding that he’s providing the "evolution and innovation of the professional golf product that has been needed for decades."

Norman's innovative approach to the Shark Shootout was a boost to the PGA Tour, but now he seems determined to bring down the same competition that he made his name on.

Paul Higham
Contributor

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.