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Greg Norman appears to have been caught in a huge lie after a prominent journalist was removed from a press conference at the inaugural LIV golf event on Thursday.
Norman's controversial LIV Invitational series officially got underway at the Centurion Club in London, with a number of the biggest names in world golf taking part after defecting from the PGA Tour.
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The much-maligned series is funded by Saudi Arabia and is using a reported $3 billion war chest to lure players away from the PGA Tour.
The LIV series is the most lucrative event in golf history, but has attracted criticism due to its ties to the Saudi regime.
And there was further controversy during the opening round at St Albans on Thursday when journalist and biographer Alan Shipnuck claimed he was removed from Phil Mickelson's press conference by security.
Video has been circulating on social media of the security guards asking Shipnuck to leave.
“Well, a couple of neckless security dudes just physically removed me from Phil Mickelson’s press conference, saying they were acting on orders from their boss, whom they refused to name. (Greg Norman? MBS? Al Capone?) Never a dull moment up in here,” Shipnuck tweeted.
Here's a snippet of video of @AlanShipnuck getting removed from Phil Mickelson's post-round interview this evening at the LIV event outside of London. Not shown: one of the security guards twice putting hands on Alan, who on both occasions said, "Do not touch me." Video by @CNN https://t.co/zQRTKfUNwd pic.twitter.com/r5jj0ysibe
— Fire Pit Collective (@firepitstories) June 9, 2022
The journalist also posted a screenshot of a text message exchange he had with Norman in which he asked the Aussie legend if he was aware he “got muscled” out of the press conference.
Norman responded: “Did not hear. Thanks for letting me know.”
However Norman has seemingly been caught in a lie after a photo emerged of Norman looking straight at the exchange between Shipnuck and security guards.
— Alan Shipnuck (@AlanShipnuck) June 9, 2022
"You cannot make this shit up!" he tweeted.
"I texted Greg Norman before someone sent me this video - I had no idea he was lurking behind me."
You cannot make this shit up! I texted Greg Norman before someone sent me this video - I had no idea he was lurking behind me. pic.twitter.com/thgdMlfTAR
— Alan Shipnuck (@AlanShipnuck) June 9, 2022
Shipnuck shot to prominence in February when he published Mickelson's infamous remarks about the Saudi regime.
“They’re scary motherf***ers to get involved with,” Mickelson told Shipnuck.
“We know they killed (Washington Post reporter Jamal) Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay.
"Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”
Mickelson later apologised for his comments, claiming they were “off the record comments being shared out of context and without my consent.”
Shipnuck responded by saying that was “completely false”.
PGA Tour bans players in LIV golf series
Within half an hour of the first golfers teeing off on Thursday, the PGA Tour announced that Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and 15 other PGA Tour members playing in the St Albans event were suspended.
The banned players include major winners Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, who'd already informed the PGA Tour of their resignation.
In response, LIV Golf said the ban was "vindictive and deepens the divide between the Tour and its members."
Monahan said players would be banned from playing on all features of the PGA Tour, including the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Champions, PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamerica.
The LIV golfers will also be removed from the FedEx Cup rankings and won't be eligible for the FedEx Cup or Presidents Cup.
"These players have made their choice for their own financial-based reasons. But they can't demand the same PGA Tour membership benefits, considerations, opportunities and platforms as you," a memo from Monahan read.
"That expectation disrespects you, our fans and our partners."
Mickelson, who previously said he wants to retain his lifetime membership with the PGA Tour, refused to discuss the suspension after his round.
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