Greg Norman disputed Jack Nicklaus’ comments about the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series, saying the golf legend was a “hypocritical” and that he had originally blessed the concept.
Nicklaus said last month that LIV Golf Investments had contacted him about taking on a leadership role on the project, but he declined. He explained it in more detail last week at his Anniversary Tournament.
Nicklaus Companies filed a lawsuit last month against Nicklaus alleging, among other things, that Nicklaus was considering taking a role with the company and that doing so would have harmed the brand.
“One hundred percent truth?” Norman said in a lengthy Washington Post story covering much more than his involvement in LIV Golf Investments, Jack is a hypocrite. “When he comes up with these comments, I think: Jack must have had a short memory. ”
Norman said Nicklaus attended a golf presentation and later wrote in an email that the new league had his blessing.
Unquoted quote, he said, “That’s good for our game. “If golf is good, it is good for me,” said Norman. “So do you want the facts? You have the facts. Know what you said before you opened your mouth.
Norman, 67, has long viewed Nicklaus, 82, as his mentor. He finished second to Niklaus at the 1986 Masters Tournament, where the Golden Bear at the age of 46 won his green jacket and his 18th title. He fired a final 65. Norman, the 54-hole co-captain, stunned the last hole to miss a playoff by sudden death.
The LIV Golf International Series kicks off with its first event on Thursday, a 54-hole championship with a $25 million purse. The new project is highly controversial, not only because of its support for the Public Investment Fund but because of the conflict with the PGA Tour, which it considers a threat.
Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia are among the players competing in the tournament.
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Jack Nicklaus said last week he had a meeting with LIV Golf Investments about the possibility of running the organization’s new league out of courtesy because his golf course design firm has a contract to do a course in the country.
Nicklaus recently told Fire Pit Collective that it has been approached to manage the new league that is now led by Norman and is offering more than $100 million to do so.
Those discussions were part of a lawsuit filed earlier this month against Nikalous by his own company – in which he has no controlling stake – claiming that it “saved Mr Niklaus from himself by ridding him of a controversial venture that could not only tarnish his legacy”. And his reputation, but he badly damaged Nicklaus’ companies name, brands, and business.
LIV Golf officials said Niklaus was not offered the same role Norman now performs, but rather was offered an “ambassador”-type arrangement that he declined.
“Obviously they called me,” Nicklaus said. “And we have had a contract on a golf course in Saudi Arabia for more than two years. Basically the same group.
“So when they called Jackie—my son Jackie organized the meeting, and they got into the bear club (in Florida). We met two guys. John Reese and Paul Stringer from Nicklaus Companies were there because we were doing golf, and they suggested this thing to me.”
“I did it out of courtesy for them because we do a golf course for them. I have no interest in wanting to do something like that. I don’t care what kind of money they might throw at me. My loyalty was to the PGA Tour. I grew up on the PGA Tour. I helped find the PGA Tour what it is today. My loyalty is here and it will stay there.”
Nicklaus, along with Arnold Palmer, Gardner Dickinson, and Bob Golby, helped players break away from the PGA of America and found a special players section in 1968. Prior to this, the organization that ran the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup oversaw the club not only professionals but Tourism event management.
This split led to what is now known as the PGA Tour.
Golf Saudi is the company whose mission is to help develop the game of golf in the country and encourage tourism, among other things. It was the group that announced that Nicklaus would design its first track, to be built in Qidiya, 40 minutes from the Saudi capital, Riyadh. It was announced in 2020.