Leagues and Governing Bodies

Norman confirms LIV Golf ready for potential legal fights with PGA, DP World Tours

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman (r) said his legal team is prepared if other entities try to stop LIV Golf sign-ups from playinggetty images

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman said there are injunctions "ready to go" if the PGA and DP World Tours try to ban players after denying them releases to compete in the LIV Golf Invitational Series, according to Rick Broadbent of the LONDON TIMES. Norman "outlined his strategy" for what happens next. He said, "If you decide to come here, we’ve got your back. We’ll defend you, we’ll reimburse you and we’ll represent you if you want to go down the legal route." Norman also said that the Tour "did not need stars" such as Rory McIlroy, who has said there is a "morality" to not taking the Saudi money, or Tiger Woods, who has shown no interest. Norman revealed that he has "had no contact" with the R&A, the USGA or the PGA of America, which stage three of the year’s majors -- only Augusta National Chair Fred Ridley "returned his call." If any of those bodies try to stop LIV Golf sign-ups from playing, Norman said that his legal team "will be ready" (LONDON TIMES, 5/12). 

MAKING THEIR MOVE: Golf Channel’s Tripp Isenhour said this issue has been heading to the courts “all along." PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan "had to do this" and called it a “smart move by him as far as what he had to do with his legal hand of cards" (“Golf Central,” Golf Channel, 5/11). Golf Channel’s Eamon Lynch said, "Now we see if players actually want to cross that line and they’re free to make that choice but now there are consequences to that choice because the flirting can no longer go on in the shadows." He continued, “There’s very little evidence to this point that there are a lot of players willing to be the players who will risk that kind of disciplinary action" (“Golf Today,” Golf Channel, 5/11).

NOT GOOD FOR GOLF? In N.Y., Mark Cannizzaro writes the PGA Tour and DP World Tour denying waivers to their players "might be good" for those tours, but it is "not good for the game of golf." The PGA Tour’s "hardline stance," too, seems to "run counter to its status as a 501c3 non-profit organization." Protecting its brand is "understandable," but the Norman-led team-event series has "never been about competing with the PGA Tour in an effort to take it down." Norman’s series has "been about coinciding with the PGA Tour." The PGA Tour has "portrayed itself as the bully during this process," led by Commissioner Jay Monahan, who "spoke like one at The Players Championship back in March when addressing the Norman-led league and threatening sanctions against anyone who plays in it." Cannizzaro: "Since LIV Golf announced its intentions and the PGA Tour announced its threats, this mess was bound for the courtroom. And how is that good for golf?" (N.Y. POST, 5/12). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon questioned the PGA Tour's move, saying, "Do they think this is the reserve clause in the 1920s and they can just tell people what to do because they’re the league?” ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser: “I don’t know that it’s a bluff ... but I think it’s bluster. … If they want to fight the Saudi golf league, you fight it with money. You give them what the Saudi golf league is going to give them because golfers are going where the money is” (“PTI,” ESPN, 5/11).

RISKING FURTHER BACKLASH: In London, James Corrigan writes Norman has "risked further backlash to the controversial Saudi rebel golf circuit by saying 'we've all made mistakes' in relation to the state-sponsored murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi." Pushed later on whether he "really believed that dismembering a journalist's body with a saw was 'just a mistake,'" Norman responded: "I’m not going down this road guys. Let’s just stay focused on the golf. That’s all I’m going to do." Norman's controversial comments are "certain to intensify the spotlight on the Kingdom’s rebel circuit and the accusations of 'sportswashing'" (London TELEGRAPH, 5/12).

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