Showdown looms as Norman reveals $2.8B expansion

Greg Norman has revealed his Saudi Arabia-backed rebel golf tour has received an extra $2.8 billion of funding, with the aim of turning it into a full 14-event series by 2024.

The Australian also claimed the all-powerful PGA Tour cannot ban any players who join the breakaway tour.

A month out from the first of the 54-hole tournaments, Norman told the BBC five of the world’s top-50 players have committed to the first event, to be staged near London.

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The former world No.1 also claimed he’s not looking to destroy the PGA Tour, but did admit his LIV Golf tour is looking “decades” down the track.

“The whole notion is to change the look and the whole presentation of the way the game has been played over the last 53 years,” he said.

“We’ve just got approval to launch our schedule into 2023, ’24 and ’25. We’ve got ($2.8 billion) to back that up so we have additional funds in place.

“And just because we are talking about 23, 24 and 25, we’re looking way beyond that too. We are looking at decades.”

Norman took aim at the two biggest tours – the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour) for standing in the way of progress.

“2022 and 23 are our baiter years. We are a start up, basically,” he explained.

“Of course we have had to pivot because there have been some obstacles thrown in our way with a couple of the institutions – the PGA Tour and DP World Tour – but we have pivoted brilliantly.

“We have pivoted to the fact that we’ve done invitationals and these will be our start ups. We will start with eight this year and then we’ll do 10 next year and 2024 and 25 and beyond it’s the full league, 14 events off and running.”

Norman said LIV Golf isn’t looking for a legal fight with the powerful PGA Tour, which is certain to deny its members a release to play in any LIV tournament staged in the United States.

That will bring the matter to a head in the coming weeks, but Norman is confident a resolution can be found.

“The PGA Tour interprets it one way, we interpret it another way. That’s when lawyers get involved,” he said.

“Remember, no tour in this world owns golf. There’s been a monopoly in place for 53 years.

“Players have to go play the PGA Tour, that’s it, plain and simple. All we are trying to do is give the players another opportunity to go and play.

“Obviously they [the PGA Tour] are partnering up with the European Tour and that sends a signal that they are trying to tighten up their monopoly situation.

“The players are starting to understand some of the by-laws might be a little bit less stringent or less penal than what the tour are saying. You’ll be banned for life? You cannot ban players for life, they are independent contractors. “

The 67-year-old said he had no problems with the Saudi Arabian backers of LIV Golf, despite claims the breakaway tour is simply “sportswashing”.

“I’m very, very proud of the fact that when I go to Saudi Arabia I see these kids and these girls playing the game of golf,” he said.

“And the way the game is growing in that country is phenomenal. To me that’s what it’s all about.”

In a separate interview with Sky Sports, Norman denied he had any links to the Saudi Arabian government.

Earlier this year, Phil Mickelson caused outrage when he called the Saudis “scary mother(expletives) to get involved with.”

Mickelson is expected to be among the biggest names on the breakaway tour.

“I’m not going to get into politics, I don’t know what the Saudi government does. I don’t want to get into that. Every country has a cross to bear,” Norman said.

“They’re not my bosses. We’re independent. I do not answer to Saudi Arabia. I do not answer to their government or MBS [Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud].

“I answer to my board of directors, and MBS is not on that. Simple as that. So that narrative is untrue.”

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