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Greg Norman has launched a passionate defence of the upcoming LIV Golf Invitational Series and says he’s not working for the Saudi Arabian regime.
In an interview with Sky Sports, the LIV frontman was asked if he understood people’s concerns about where the money was coming from to fund the series. Earlier, Norman revealed it had received an extra $2bn cash boost, and he said: “One hundred per cent. It’s reprehensible what’s happened with Khashoggi, right? Own up to it. Talk about it."
"But you go back into Saudi Arabia, they’re making a cultural change within to change that. They don’t want to have that stigma sitting over there. The generation of kids today that I see on the driving range, they don’t want that stigma going into the next generation and their kids’ kids. They want to change that culture, and they are changing the culture, and you know how they’re doing it? Golf.”
🗣️ "I do not answer to Saudi Arabia, I do not answer to MBS."Chief Executive of LIV Golf Greg Norman says that LIV Golf Investments is independent and will not answer to the Saudi government or Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. pic.twitter.com/H7fKGBTuT4May 10, 2022
It was then put to Norman that the Saudi Arabian regime is engaging in sportswashing. Norman refuted the suggestion. He said: “I’m not talking about sportswashing. They’re changing their culture within their country.” The 67-year-old then hit back at the suggestion that the Saudi regime are his bosses. He said: “No, they’re not my bosses. We’re independent. I do not answer to Saudi Arabia. I do not answer to MBS [Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman]. Let’s get that straight. I can categorically tell you that is not the case. I do not answer to MBS.”
Norman cited other examples of organisations dealing with the Saudis, including the US and UK governments. He said: “There’s a lot of things interlinked today. No different to the Saudi investment, no different to the US government investing with Saudi Arabia knowing that the UK government is investing with Saudi Arabia. There is a tranche of money that’s out there that’s investing in Disney and Uber, direct and indirect investments that consumers all around the world are benefitting from. Do they sit there saying, ‘Oh, that’s Saudi money, I’m not going to get into an Uber?’”
Norman then brought the conversation back to what he says is the most important issue – growing the game. He said: “I’m not talking on behalf of the government. I’m talking on behalf of my true belief and my passion and the fact that I’m so proud of the fact that I can take golf to another level, in another place, in another way, that’s never been done before.”
With the inaugural series due to get under way at London’s Centurion Club in less than a month, more information is emerging as to who is likely to tee it up in the first of the eight tournaments. Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Richard Bland are three confirmed to have requested releases. Meanwhile, Norman also revealed that 19 of the top 100 and six of the top 50 would be in the event.
Confirmation of the full 48-man field is expected next week – just as attention turns to the PGA Championship.
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.