LIV Golf CEO and commissioner Greg Norman said Tuesday he was asked not to attend the QBE Shootout, an event he founded and has hosted since 1989.
The 54-hole competition between two-man teams will take place on the Norman-designed Gold Course at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., from Dec. 9-11.
“Unfortunately, after 33 consecutive years of attending and hosting every Shootout Tournament – a PGA Tour co-sanctioned event – since I founded it in 1989, this year I was asked not to go. attend,” Norman wrote on Instagram. “Why would you ask? Maybe it’s because I’m helping give golf a new heartbeat, creating new value and delivering a new product that is loved by players, fans and broadcasters alike. And that doing so, I am finally giving players their rights as independent contractors to benefit from their performance and brand. In some people’s minds, this is too disruptive and evolution is seen as a bad thing. I am not Disagree – competition breeds excellence.”
QBE Shootout director Rob Hartman said the tournament has been talking to Norman about his role for months.
“As we grew closer, the decision was ultimately made to step back and really let the focus go to our amazing charity partners,” Hartman told The Naples Daily News. “When he started this event 34 years ago it was all about charity then and it’s all about charity now. Greg just made the decision that he didn’t want to distract from that.”
In July, the R&A decided not to invite two-time winner Norman to the 150th Open Championship celebration at St. Andrews. The R&A said it hoped Norman would be able to attend again in the future “when circumstances permit”.
LIV Golf, funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, joined a handful of its players as a plaintiff in a federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour last month. Plaintiffs accused the PGA Tour of wrongfully suspending golfers for participating in LIV Golf events and unlawfully using its monopoly power to crush competition.
“Change is good,” Norman wrote on Tuesday. “Professional golf product evolution and innovation has been needed for decades – just ask the next generation of golf enthusiasts.”
According to Norman, the QBE Shootout has raised over $15 million for charity.
“These charities, their missions and the financial benefits they receive each year from Shootout Tournament donations are of the utmost importance to me and my family,” Norman wrote. “As such, I have decided not to attend this year’s event so that the focus can remain on the missions at hand.”
Norman founded the tournament, then called the RMCC Invitational, at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California. It was then called the Shark Shootout and moved to Napoli in 2001.
During the 1994 Shark Shootout, Norman met with PGA Tour players behind closed doors to discuss his concept for a new World Tour. The plan included the top 30-40 players competing in eight events with $3 million in prize money. He reportedly secured a 10-year commitment from Fox to televise the tournaments. The league proposed by Norman never saw the light of day.
At the time, the PGA Tour said in a statement that it would prevent its members from participating in World Tour events “by applying our television broadcasting and conflicting event regulations.”