golf icon Greg Norman He will set aside his successful business venture to become the commissioner of the much-anticipated and much-discussed golf league which he hopes will start playing in 2022, and seeks to sign players on guaranteed and lucrative deals with huge portfolios.
Norman, 66, announced his association with Liv Golf Investments, with the support of the Public Investment Fund, which works on behalf of the government of Saudi Arabia. Norman will be the organization’s chief operating officer, as well as the league’s new commissioner.
As part of the announcement, Norman said Liv Golf Investments, which will invest in several golf projects, has set aside a nine-figure sum to help the Asian Tour organize 10 additional events over the next 10 years.
“This is the biggest decision of my life,” Norman said in an interview.
Norman will continue to be in South Florida to manage the new project while keeping a hand in the golf course design business.
“What do I do with Greg Norman’s company? It has 12 divisions. I can’t do both. I can’t put both feet in my two office buildings and do 100 percent effort,” he said. “So I decided to move away from the Greg Norman Company. For the first time in my life I handed over the reins to other people to run my company.
“That was a big, big decision because that’s how much I believe in this. That’s how much I believe in the people who were behind this to get it to a point where we make it now and to the point where we’re going to live and get the first ball in the air in [spring] Next year “.
Norman, a 20-time PGA Tour winner with two major titles and 88 wins, did not reveal the name or any other details or whether any players had signed on to the new league. He did not specify the length of his contract but said he was on board “from four to seven years”. In 1993-1994, when Norman was at the height of his football career, which saw him topping the world for 331 weeks, he came up with the idea for a world golf tour that would see the top players come together in a series of big-money and small-court events. Tim Finchem, the PGA Tour commissioner at the time, successfully battled the Contenders Tour, which Norman had maintained then and now would have worked had players been allowed to compete on both tracks.
This will continue to be an issue going forward with the launch of a new league, as many iterations have been discussed and introduced for several years. The project is not part of the previously revealed Premier Golf League, which is based in London and has a plan for 18 championships and 48 courses to start in 2023.
Liv Golf Investments’ entry into the Asian Tour is the first step in revealing what is planned. It suggests some sort of arrangement with the new league as a path for players to join. When the European Tour entered into a strategic alliance with the PGA Tour, it ended its relationship with the Asian Tour which saw a certain number of players receive exemptions while also participating in the sanctioning of several events.
The investment in the Asian Tour will see a commitment of at least $200 million in prize money over 10 years to help fund a series of 10 annual marquee events. The Championship Series will be added to the Asian Tour schedule in 2022.
In turn, the new league will likely be sanctioned by the Asian Tour, which means players can earn rankings points, which is a big problem with news of the competing tours emerging over the past two years. The world ranking is one way to qualify for the major tournaments.
Norman referred to the “untapped potential” in the Asia region and suggested that the relationship with the Asian Tour is just the beginning of Lev Golf’s investments in many golf endeavours. The commissioner of the Asian Tour, Cho Min Thant, hailed the visit as a milestone, especially in light of the loss of association with the European Tour. “This will provide unprecedented new playing opportunities,” he said.
The Public Investment Fund is a sovereign wealth fund that is considered one of the largest in the world, with assets of more than $500 billion. The money is being invested on behalf of the government of Saudi Arabia and has been the subject of controversy due to the country’s poor human rights record.
“I am delighted that the investor base is 100 percent commercially driven by the opportunity to improve golf for all involved,” Norman said. “I am delighted to partner with this group of investors to bring the significant resources needed to bring about the fundamental changes required for the greater good of the sport.”
The announcement follows a 10-year partnership between the Asian Tour and Golf Saudi, which operates Saudi International, an event that was previously part of the European Tour. When the tournament lost its European sanctions, the PGA Tour said it would not grant vacations to its players to play in the tournament.
The event’s association with the sanctioned Asian Tour has left the situation unclear. Dustin Johnson, the defending champion, is among several players who sought release to play in the tournament in February.
The tournament will become the main event of the Asian Tour, although it will not be one of the 10 new events that are part of the series that will take place throughout 2022 and beyond.
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