Greg Norman challenges Aussie LIV golfers amid Adam Scott standoff

Greg Norman and Adam Scott are pictured side by side.
Greg Norman still hopes to woo Adam Scott to the LIV series, but is counting on fellow Australian signings Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman to win him over. Pictures: Getty Images

Greg Norman says it is up to recent LIV Golf signings Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman to convince fellow Aussie star Adam Scott to consider ditching the PGA Tour in favour of the breakaway series.

Scott was reportedly involved in discussions with LIV earlier this year after the 2013 Masters champion was identified as a key signing for the newly-founded series.

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Backed by eye-watering financial investment from Saudi Arabia and publicly fronted by former World No.1 Norman, the arrival of the LIV series has sparked serious tension in the golf world.

Seen by many as an attempt to improve the image of Saudi Arabia by using high-profile sporting events as a means of distracting from the nation's poor record on human rights, the LIV series has resulted in a divide among golf's top players.

Many have found the huge money on offer from LIV difficult to turn down, while others felt it was simply a deliberate attempt to undermine the PGA Tour.

Despite participating in early discussions to join LIV, Scott has reportedly rejected Norman's advances, preferring to remain with the PGA Tour.

Asked about the prospects of Scott changing his mind, Norman told the Sydney Morning Herald that it was now up to Smith and Leishman to recruit Scott to Team Australia in the LIV series.

“How can I answer that question? There were discussions early on with Adam and I think right now with Marc and Cam being the principals of Team Australia, I think quite honestly it’s over to them,” Norman said.

“They have to build out the most solid team which gives them the best value going forward. Obviously, they’ll come to us and ask us questions."

While it might seem churlish for Norman to handball the job of selling the series onto Smith and Leishman, as far as the pair's LIV deals are concerned it could be in their best interest.

Part of their contracts was a stake in the Australian franchise Punch GC, one of 12 founded by LIV set to compete in a 14-event tour next year.

Further windfalls, in addition to their multi-million dollar deals with LIV, could follow in future if the pair's management of the franchise proves a success.

“(Smith) sees the market that Australia presents and the market which, quite honestly, has been starved of high-quality players and new value for the game of golf,” Norman told SMH.

“The Presidents Cup comes in there once every seven to 10 years, sucks the economy dry and then disappears.”

LIV still pursuing Adam Scott after signing Smith, Leishman

Since Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and other players spun the PGA Tour off from the PGA of America in the late 1960s, the best players in the world play on the PGA Tour.

Four of the top seven career money leaders on Tour hail from outside the United States — McIlroy, Vijay Singh, Adam Scott and Justin Rose. Ninety of the Tour’s current members are international, comprising 28 different countries.

The Tour’s geographic and logistical proximity to the majors — three of the four are held in the United States — have helped establish it as the professional standard of golf tours around the world.

But the sudden growth of LIV, its alignment with the Asian Tour, its global perspective, and its attractiveness to international players all pose a clear and present threat to the Tour’s longstanding geographic dominance.

Scott was reportedly part of a meeting of more than 20 top golfers, convened by Tiger Woods, to discuss the impact and ramifications LIV was having on the PGA Tour.

Cameron Smith is pictured at the LIV Golf Invitational in Boston.
Reigning British Open champion Cameron Smith's decision to join the LIV series earned him a multi-million dollar deal. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

The LIV roster currently includes golf heavyweights such as Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen.

Details around what was discussed at the meeting were initially kept largely a secret, however, several players such as Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Will Zalatoris said Woods' presence was telling.

Reputable publications No Laying Up and The Firepit Collective both reported that Woods and McIlroy are spearheading a series of proposals that would dramatically realign the PGA Tour to favour top players.

The reported plan proposed by the Woods-McIlroy consortium would include up to 15 limited-field events with increased purses.

Somewhat of a 'tour-within-the-Tour', they would offer both financial incentives and guaranteed stability via a no-cut format.

Perhaps the reason it sounds so similar to the format LIV Golf has unveiled, is because much like the Saudi-backed rebel competition, it has been created to appeal to what players want, and what fans need — the top players, all together.

The PGA Tour schedule would still include dozens of “non-elite” events that would proceed as normal. But just as a victory at a PGA Tour event grants exemption into upcoming majors, strong performance at the “non-elite” events would provide a pathway for lower-tier players to play their way into the limited-field events.

In other words, options have narrowed for non-elite players, but opportunities still exist for them to ascend. In addition, the “elite”-level players reportedly agreed to participate in three “non-elite” events each year, to spread the star power around.

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