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Brandel Chamblee, the popular yet often controversial Golf Channel Analyst, has insisted that Phil Mickelson and Greg Norman should be removed from the Hall of Fame for their involvement in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.
The American said: "As far as I know, it’s never happened that an athlete has been kicked out of their Hall Of Fame but both Norman & Mickelson should be removed from the Hall Of Fame. They’ve dishonoured the game & they threaten to destroy the game that they have both so enormously profited from."
Greg Norman is the CEO of LIV Golf Investments, the organisation that has pioneered the LIV Golf Invitational Series. That in itself is controversial given the direct challenge it has placed on golf's established eco-system but where it is buried in controversy is the origin of the financial riches.
LIV Golf Investments is financially backed by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds. Assets included, it is said to be worth in excess of $620 billion and has invested millions in the likes of Uber, Boeing, Disney, Facebook, Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Citigroup and more.
The Saudi investment has been viewed by many as an attempt to "sportswash" its human rights reputation with Amnesty International accusing those that took part in the LIV Golf Series opener as being "willing stooges."
Many players that have joined the Series have spoken publicly about their desire to "grow the game" which has again been met with public frustration - Chamblee himself said that response: "makes me want to puke." Bryson DeChambeau is one of few that described his rationale as a "business decision," whilst this week's defending US Open champion, Jon Rahm, accused players of cashing in their "retirement plan" and "setting off into the sunset."
Norman however, has insisted: "I want golf to grow, players to have additional opportunities, and fans to have more fun. My mission is to help the game reach its full potential and we know the role of golf as an entertainment product is critical to overall participation in the sport."
On a recent appearance on the Golf Channel, Chamblee directed much of his vitriol at those that have accepted the Saudi riches and namely, Phil Mickelson: "When it comes to the richest sports stars in the world, Phil Mickelson is 11th. He’s ahead of Kobe Bryant, he’s ahead of David Beckham, he’s ahead of Kevin Durant, he’s ahead of Lewis Hamilton,” Chamblee said.
“You’re talking about him being ahead of icons in sports that are far more popular worldwide than the game of golf. And yet why is it that golf has four of the highest paid athletes of all time? Why is it that Phil Mickelson is 11th, in terms of the stratosphere he does occupy, as an athlete, that athletes who have made less money than him but play a sport that is widely more popular? Why is that? It’s because of the image of the golfer.
"Because they show up and, generally speaking, play a game that is self-governed and self-policing. It is a game of integrity. It's because corporations want to align themselves with these players. It's because of the philanthropic aspect of the game of golf." He concluded: "They're destroying the game and they're destroying their reputations."
Mickelson has defended his decision to join the Saudi-backed venture ahead of his attempt at the Career Grand Slam: "I know that many of you have strong, well, many people have strong opinions, emotions about my choice to go forward with LIV Golf. I understand, and I respect that. I'm incredibly grateful for the PGA Tour and the many opportunities it has provided me through the years, but I am excited about this new opportunity as well."
As far as I know, it’s never happened that an athlete has been kicked out of their Hall Of Fame but both Norman & Mickelson should be removed from the Hall Of Fame. They’ve dishonored the game & they threaten to destroy the game that they have both so enormously profited from.June 15, 2022
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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