LIV Golf chief Greg Norman has hit back at critics of the Saudi-backed series and slammed the PGA Tour for its ‘deafening’ hypocrisy.
Norman, along with other former major winners such as Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, are among those who have joined the breakaway tour and been widely condemned because of the human rights abuses carried out by the Saudi regime.
The PGA Tour banned rebel players with immediate effect moments after they teed off at the inaugural LIV event at Centurion Golf Club earlier this month.
LIV Golf chief Greg Norman has hit back at critics of the Saudi-backed breakaway series
Meanwhile, famed US sports broadcaster Bob Costas described the huge cheques on offer to players – the first seven events have $20million purses – as ‘blood money’.
Former world No 1 Norman, 67, has largely stayed quiet amid the criticism, but decided to speak out as the US Open drew to a close on Sunday.
‘I’m disappointed people go down that [blood money] path, quite honestly,’ Norman told Fox News.
‘Look, if they want to look at it in prism, then why does the PGA Tour have 23 sponsors doing 40-plus billion dollars’ worth of business with Saudi Arabia?
The 67-year-old pictured with inaugural LIV Golf Invitational winner Charl Schwartzel
Norman has criticised PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan (above) for ‘deafening’ hypocrisy
‘Why is it okay for the sponsors? Why is it okay that there’s a Saudi sponsor, Aramco, the largest sponsor of women’s golf in the world? Why is it okay for them? Why is it not okay for these players?
‘Will [PGA Tour commissioner] Jay Monahan go to each and every one of those CEOs of the 23 companies that are investing into Saudi Arabia and suspend them and ban them?
‘The hypocrisy in all this, it’s so loud. It’s deafening.’
Former major winners Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed will make their LIV debuts in the second event in Portland in July, while more PGA Tour stars are expected to defect.
Bryson DeChambeau is expected to make his LIV debut in the second event in Portland in July
Defending the breakaway series, Norman emphasised that it is here to stay and confirmed that the process of applying for Official Golf World Rankings (OWGR) status is ongoing.
‘We’re not going anywhere, we want to do what’s right for the fans, for the players, and for our commercial business model,’ he said.
‘We are going to forge forward. And there’s been a lot of obstacles, no question about it. There’s been a lot of obstacles that the PGA Tour’s thrown in our path. But you know what? We’ve worked around it because golf is a force for good.’