A month after the launch of the LIV Golf Invitational Series – the Saudi Arabia-backed league attempting to woo some of golf’s biggest names from the PGA Tour – its CEO and commissioner, Greg Norman, is apparently set to announce a handful of names committed to the controversial league.
According to a report in The Telegraph, two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson, along with European Ryder Cup stars Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter as well as five-time tour winner Kevin Na are among those expected to join the $ 225 million rival. The final details are still being confirmed, according to LIV Golf, per the report, but the plan is to announce some of the players who are planning to join in the weeks ahead.
“We’ve respected the Masters and let it go off, but now our journey is finally coming to fruition —for the players, not for me,” Norman told the newspaper. “Their rightful place to have what they want. That’s why they are still very, very, very interested. We have players signed, contrary to the white noise you’re hearing out there.
“The interest level we’ve had… well, I had a player who’s won a couple of major championships sitting in my very office here 48 hours ago.”
The eight-event tour is currently set to tee off in two months at the Centurion Club in St. Albans outside London with multiple US stops as well, including at Trump Bedminster in New Jersey. However, it suffered a blow when a number of players, including Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson, pledged their allegiance to the PGA Tour, which has said it will ban players from its tour if they sign on with the Saudi-backed league .
According to the report, the Saudi league was prepared two months ago to reveal a list of players set to join that included DeChambeau, Johnson and Phil Mickelson. Then Mickelson’s comments to a writer about using the league for leverage against the PGA Tour despite Saudi Arabia’s record of human rights atrocities, including the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an American resident, set off a firestorm of criticism.
In the wake of those remarks, Mickelson apologized, has taken a leave of absence from golf that included missing last week’s Masters and hasn’t been heard from since. The other players also confirmed their allegiance to the PGA Tour, with McIlroy saying the rival was “dead in the water.”
“It was a kick in the teeth, there’s no question about it,” Norman told The Telegraph.
And while the PGA Tour said at last month’s Players Championship that it is “moving on,” Norman apparently plans to as well with this latest revelation.
“Quite honestly, it doesn’t matter who plays, we’re going to put the event on,” he said. “There’s a $ 4 million first prize. I hope a kid who’s 350th in the world wins. It’ll change his life of him, his family’s life of him. And then a few of our events will go by and the top players will see someone winning $ 6 million, $ 8 million, and say ‘enough is enough, I know I can beat these guys week in week out with my hands tied behind my back’ . “