Greg Norman's staggering new move amid $3 billion golf furore

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Seen here, Greg Norman speak to media about his breakaway Super Golf League (SGL).
Greg Norman has announced the launch of his breakaway Super Golf League (SGL). Pic: Getty

Aussie golfing great Greg Norman has delivered a bullish statement about the Super Golf League (SGL) after announcing that the controversial Saudi-backed competition will be launching in June.

In a letter to players published by sports website SI.com, the Australian and CEO of the Saudi Arabia-backed company said the league will go ahead even if it starts on a small scale.

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"You should know that we are launching, and we will continue to drive this vision forward," the former World No.1 said in the United States on Wednesday (Thursday AEDT).

"We will not stop. We believe SGLin our mission and will announce information about our first events (shortly)."

Norman said the eight-event LIV Golf Invitational will consist of team play and individual events, with prize money growing to as much as $US255 million ($A349 million).

It has previously been reported that Norman was a war chest of almost $3 billion to try and entice some of the world's best golfers.

However, attracting the world's top players has so far proved problematic, with Phil Mickelson the most high-profile recent supporter.

However, the six-time major winner came under fire for comments he made about the Saudi-backed project and for accusing the PGA Tour of being a dictatorship, admitting that he'd used interest in the SGL as leverage for better pay and conditions for golfers on the PGA Tour.

The proposed league has taken a massive hit in recent weeks as a number of the game's best players have pledged their allegiance to the PGA Tour, including Irish four-times major winner Rory McIlroy, who said it was "dead in the water".

Norman, a World Golf Hall of Fame member who counts two British Open titles among his 20 PGA Tour wins, is spearheading the SGL as CEO of LIV Golf Investments, which is backed by the Saudi Investment Fund.

"We consider ourselves a start-up," he said in the letter.

"We may start with a modest number of players, but we won't stay that way for long.

"I fully understand some players may choose not to play with us right away, but after we get going I believe many of those who aren't with us now will be with us later.

"I want to thank you for your patience, but know it will be worth your while."

Greg Norman (R) is heading a proposed new Saudi-backed rebel competition to rival the PGA Tour. Pic: Getty
Greg Norman (R) is heading a proposed new Saudi-backed rebel competition to rival the PGA Tour. Pic: Getty

The first event of the breakaway competition is set to be played at Centurion Golf Club in London between June 9-11.

No golfers have publicly admitted to signing up for the SGL despite promises of huge paydays, though some have expressed interest, including Australian former world No.1 Adam Scott.

Greg Norman's enticing proposition for players

Norman sent the letters to some 250 players on Tuesday night, across various tours around the world.

“We finally got to let the world know exactly who we are," he said.

“And all this white noise and speculation out there now goes away, right? Because now we can put it out there in the public eye. Our investors are very, very excited. Everyone on our team, which is close to 50 deep in personnel on our payroll, is so pumped up. We finally get our chance to shine.”

Norman says members of the World's Top 10 in men's golf have expressed their interest in the SGL, despite McIlroy - as well as Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa - all pledging their allegiance to the PGA Tour in recent weeks.

“They will have an opportunity to play somewhere else,” said Norman, who argues that players should be treated as independent contractors able to pick and choose what events they enter.

“They can still play the PGA Tour, they can still play the European tour, they can still play wherever they want,” he added.

“We’re just giving them another opportunity to increase their market value.”

The SGL's image has been tarnished by comments from American six-times major champion Mickelson about Saudi Arabia's human rights record and using the league to gain leverage over the PGA Tour.

Mickelson later apologised after his comments drew widespread criticism and said he would take time away from golf to "self-reflect".

with AAP

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