Australian golf officials are solely focused on their own busy summer schedule amid revelations of Greg Norman’s Saudi-backed rebel tour, who plans to host at least one event here next year.
Bye yet to announce public participation in the breakaway league LIV Golf, Australia was included in the tentative tournament schedule for 2023 released the day before.
The Saudi-backed series has announced a 14-tournament plan for next year, with 12 team franchises established and the option for players to either be promoted or relegated as part of the Asia Tour event series.
Tournaments are planned for Australia, North America, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe, and LIV boss Norman said the full schedule will be released at a later date.
A spokesperson for the Australian Tour told AAP on Thursday that he has not been consulted about any LIV golf tournaments being held in the country.
A spokesman said they are more determined to move forward with more than 10 events this summer, including the long-awaited return of the Australian Open after the last two editions were canceled due to COVID-19, a spokesman said.
Organizers LIV Golf have said that their tour will not compete with major tournaments, international team competitions or historic events next year.
What is LIV Golf?
Norman, 66, was announced as the CEO of the $24 million ($35.5 million) LIV Golf tournament last October.
The LIV Golf competition describes itself as “golf but louder”, and according to the tournament’s website, states that it will “help transform it into the sport it is destined to be”.
LIV golf is separate from the PGA Tour, which hosts the world’s largest golf competition.
But the PGA Tour will not release players for LIV events, and several golfers have been suspended from competition for desertion. Australian golfer Wayne Grady called the impact of the PGA Tour an “absolute disgrace” in a social media post in May.
Greg Norman holding his second Claret pitcher after winning the 122nd UK Open in 1993. Source: Getty / David Cannon
Along with fragmenting a group of players, Norman drew critical ire for the venture’s financial backing from Saudi Arabia’s wealthy sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Critics have accused the former world number one of complicity with Saudi Arabia in “sports money laundering”.
What is a sports wash?
According to Caroline Riot, director of communications for the Brisbane 2032 Olympics at Griffith University, sports washing is the practice of using sport “as a vehicle to try to overcome or change the reputation of a country or institution”.
Many critics have argued that erodes its reputation through PIF amid accusations of human rights violations.
Saudi Arabia has been criticized after a journalist was killed at the Saudi consulate in Turkey in 2018. Throughout his career, he openly opposed the government. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has denied any involvement in the assassination.
“The issue we see in this particular case is the very well known, established and high-profile human rights violations by the Saudis,” Ms Riot said.
Ms Riot said sports leaders in the field have a responsibility to be “ethically and morally informed” when choosing who funds their sports innovations or they risk facing such criticism.
“Where there are human rights violations in countries, they must be recognized. Sports figures should not profit from profits or take money from countries that really need to correct their actions.”
Norman denied allegations of involvement in the sports wash, telling the Washington Post that “every country bears its own cross.”
“Look, we’ve all made mistakes and you just want to learn from those mistakes and learn how you can fix them in the future,” he said in May while promoting LIV.
“Every country has done terrible things in the past… just look at America with racism, for example, it’s so ingrained here, it’s just ugly,” he also told the Financial Times.
Donald Trump Urges Players to ‘Take Money’
LIV Golf has lured some of the most famous players off the PGA Tour with the promise of guaranteed big bucks and reduced schedules.
Just last week, former US President Donald Trump urged players to “take the money” and join LIV Golf, suggesting that those who stay loyal to the PGA Tour will end up paying a higher price for staying put.
“All those golfers who remain ‘loyal’ to the very disloyal PGA in all its various forms will pay a heavy price when the inevitable MERGER to the LIV happens and you get nothing but a big ‘thank you’ from PGA officials. who make millions of dollars a year,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.
“If you don’t take the money now, you get nothing after the merger happens and only say how smart the original signers were.”
Former U.S. President Donald Trump with Greg Norman at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey on July 28, 2022. Source: A MONKEY / JUSTIN LANE/EPA
Mr. Trump played at the LIV Golf Pro event at his home course in Bedminster, New Jersey, Thursday ahead of the third LIV Golf Invitational Series, which is taking place at the same course.
Cameron Smith snaps at reporter over LIV golf question
As with the LIV Golf Invitational Series which started in June, the LIV Golf League will feature simultaneous team and individual play.
The 48 contract players will be part of 12 team franchises competing for $585 million (US$837 million) in prize purses.
Smith has been linked with a move to LIV in 2023 along with fellow Australians Adam Scott and Mark Leishman.
Speaking to reporters after his British Open win – he became the first Australian in 29 years to win golf’s oldest and biggest prize –
Smith snapped when the British reporter said apologetically that he was only asking because the rumor mill that the 28-year-old could sign was in full swing.
“I just won the British Open and you are asking about it. I don’t think it’s good,” Smith said before being pressured.
“I don’t know, mate. My team around me is worried about all of this. I’m here to win golf tournaments.”
Between League events and International Series tournaments in 2023, LIV Golf will host 25 tournaments around the world.
Star players who have already entered include major champions Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Kepka, Sergio Garcia and Luis Osthuizen, while two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson is also reportedly set to join.
World No. 4 Patrick Cantlay modestly said in the US on Wednesday that he has no plans “at the moment” to join the LIV Golf Series when this PGA Tour season wraps up.
But he admitted that the huge money offered on the rebel tour was tempting.
“Yes, I think that every time someone is in their profession, money is an important motivator,” Cantley said.
Meanwhile, American insurance company Mutual of Omaha stopped sponsoring Henrik Stenson after the Swede joined LIV.
Stenson, who won the 2016 UK Open, was stripped of his European Ryder Cup captaincy last week, hours before he announced his decision to join the breakaway league.