Golf legend Greg Norman, who has come under fire over his Saudi-funded LIV Golf league, brushed off criticism during an interview with Tucker Carlson on Sunday, where he outlined his plan to revolutionize the sport and revealed details of a multi-million dollar offer LIV made to Tiger Woods.
Norman sat down with Carlson at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey on Sunday following the final round of the third LIV Golf tournament, which featured 48 international golfers competing for the $25 million prize money.
The PGA Tour’s rival has been the target of immense backlash because of its ties to the Saudi Arabian government. Still, LIV Golf has been able to lure golfers like Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson while taking fire from Rory McIlroy and others.
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Norman said his league was forced to delay its official launch in February after unspecified “obstacles” were thrown his way by the PGA Tour.
“We decided to take a step back, analyze the situation. We knew our model was where it was. We knew that it was there it wasn’t going anywhere. The money was in the bank,” he told Carlson,”so we made an adjustment and we worked around every obstacle that’s been thrown in our path, so we came up with the invitational series.”
Norman used the time to survey fans about what they felt the sport was lacking, he said, and how they thought the fan engagement could be improved.
“Our model is 100% built around the gulf ecosystem from the ground up,” Norman told Carlson. “We are not trying to destroy the PGA tour or the European tour. We are they are to work within the ecosystem to show that it’s a big enough space. It’s a multibillion-dollar industry.”
Norman said it “blows my mind,” that sponsors have dropped pro-golfers for joining LIV because of its Saudi ties, despite having themselves done billions of dollars of business in Saudi Arabia.
“The PGA tour, I think, has about 27 sponsors who do 40-plus billion dollars worth of annual business on an annual basis in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“Why doesn’t the PGA tour call the CEOs of [these businesses] saying that we can’t do business with you because you are doing business with Saudi Arabia? Why are they picking on the professional golfers? The male professional golfers,” Norman went on.
Norman said the PGA is unwilling to make room for another high-level U.S. golf tour because it threatens the monopoly they’ve long enjoyed.
“It is a monopoly. They just want to shut us down whatever way they can,” he said, “so they will use whatever leverage point they can.”
Still, Norman said he’s confident about the future of LIV Golf.
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“They’re not going to shut us down because the product is speaking for itself. We have almost on a daily basis, we get calls every day from players [saying] ‘I want in…the list gets longer and longer for the players who want to come in. Which again, is a testament to the right white noise.”
Asked why his rival tour has caused such an uproar among American golf fans, Norman responded plainly, “I don’t know.”
“I really don’t care,” he added. “I just love the game so much and I want to grow the game of golf and we at LIV see that opportunity not just for the men but for the women. We at LIV see it for NCAA and younger generations. We at LIV see it as a pathway to opportunities for the kids to experience a new out there.
He continued, “LIV is the future of golf…because you don’t see what we see in the future. CSR programs, education programs, all the stuff that’s out there that we want to get involved with for golf and growing the game of golf,” Norman said.
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Norman later revealed to Carlson that LIV Golf made an offer to Tiger Woods in the $700 million to $800 million range. Woods ultimately declined and has remained a loyal member of the PGA tour.
Carlson asked whether it was true that LIV offered .$700M-$800M to Woods.
“That number has been out there, yes,” Norman responded. “Tiger is a needle mover. So course you got to look at the best of the best. They had originally approached Tiger before I became CEO,” he said, “adding, “yes, that number is somewhere in that neighborhood.”
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.