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Greg Norman says LIV Golf no longer has interest in talking to PGA Tour

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman said Thursday that his company has “no longer any interest” in trying to negotiate with an unresponsive PGA Tour.

Speaking ahead of a LIV golf tournament set to begin Friday in the Chicago area, Norman described the freshman series as a blockbuster product that should be seen as a companion, rather than a rival, to the PGA Tour and other golf tours.

LIV Golf is currently embroiled in litigation with the PGA Tour, having joined a federal antitrust lawsuit filed against the PGA Tour by 11 LIV golfers last month. The group, which includes Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, claims the PGA Tour engaged in anti-competitive behavior and harmed their livelihoods by suspending them for playing LIV events.

In comments published Thursday by the Australian newspaper (via Agence France-Presse), Norman said that while helping LIV Golf get started, he repeatedly sought to engage in discussions with the PGA Tour. The circuit on which he once reached the world No. 1 ranking was more focused, Norman said, on keeping his best players in the fold than working with his Saudi-backed upstart.

“That’s why we are where we are today,” Norman said.

Despite threats of suspension from PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan dating back to at least May 2021, and then his follow-up from that position, LIV Golf has managed to sign a number of top players, with nine-figure contracts and guaranteed salary. As well as Mickelson and DeChambeau, LIV Golf has trapped other former big winners in Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bubba Watson, and 2022 British Open winner Cameron Smith recently became the latest big name to defect.

Norman said he and his team “have gone to great lengths” to hire PGA Tour officials over the past year.

“When we knew we were never going to hear from them, we just decided to go,” he said. “We have no interest in sitting down with them, to be honest with you, because our product works.”

According to ESPN, which cited a source Thursday, Norman’s PGA Tour outreach included a letter he sent to Monahan in February and a voicemail Norman left shortly before LIV Golf announced its 2022 schedule. .

In the letter, which has been made public, Norman accused Monahan of “bullying and threatening” players with threats of suspension, which Norman described as “likely in violation of the law”.

“I know for a fact that many PGA players were and still are interested in playing for a new league, in addition [his emphasis] to play for the Tour,” wrote Norman at the time. “What’s wrong with that?”

Norman echoed that thought in comments on Thursday, telling The Australian that instead of being a “getaway” operation, LIV Golf was “always an add-on to any tour”.

“This idea that we’re trying to destroy touring isn’t true,” he said. “The PGA Tour is trying to destroy us, it’s as simple as that.”

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In a memo to PGA Tour players last month following the LIV Golf players’ lawsuit, Monahan continued to refer to the series as the “Saudi Golf League” while describing the lawsuit as “an attempt to use the TOUR platform to promote yourself and to freeride on your benefits and efforts.

During a June appearance on CBS at a PGA Tour event, Monahan claimed that LIV golfers “need us so much…because these players have chosen to sign lucrative multi-year contracts to play in a series. exhibition matches against the same players over and over again. Again.”

Asked at a Thursday press conference if he could see LIV Golf “overtake” the PGA Tour, DeChambeau told reporters that he “would never want that to be my goal” and that the LIV series “wouldn’t have never wanted to do that.” Norman and his team “had to play their cards the way they had to based on the reaction of the PGA Tour,” he said.

“Again, we’re going – they’re not giving up on the iron fist,” added DeChambeau, who said he had no “buyer’s remorse” about joining LIV Golf. “I don’t think they will. It’s not necessary. But I personally believe that over time they will come to a resolution. There must be. It is only in the best interest of the game of golf on the road.

“What LIV Golf has delivered is something new and unique, something different,” he continued, “and that said, there’s going to be disruption and people aren’t going to like it, and I respect every person who doesn’t I don’t think it’s good for the game of golf.

Rick Maese contributed to this report.