Kieren Perkins' truth bomb for Greg Norman amid $3 billion golf furore

Kieren Perkins and Greg Norman are pictured side by side.
Kieren Perkins says he admires some aspects of Greg Norman's LIV Golf series, but has implored him to listen to critics of the massive financial investment coming from Saudi Arabia. Pictures: Getty Images

Greg Norman has been implored to listen to critics of the LIV Golf series by Australian Sports Commission boss Kieren Perkins, who believes the acceptance of big money from Saudi Arabia is wrong.

Perkins cited how Norman had unexpectedly had a profound impact on his own career during a speech at the National Press Club, before urging Norman to 'stop and listen' to concerns about human rights violations in the Arabian nation.

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While the LIV series remains at loggerheads with the PGA Tour amid looming legal action, Perkins said he was actually supportive of LIV's attempts to disrupt the PGA monopoly on major international events.

The cost of doing so, a reported $3 billion from the Saudi Arabian Private Investment Fund, was simply too high a price to compete with the PGA, Perkins said.

Perkins said Norman needed to listen to the opinions of those outside his own circle and accept that his own views might need to be challenged.

“What would I say to Greg today? I think I would probably reference some of the things that I said earlier that while I understand and appreciate the need to disrupt sport and make it better and I think that the opportunity to create more competitive sport as well as opening the door for more inclusion is incredibly important,” Perkins said.

“But just stop and listen to the people around you Greg and think about some of the stuff that‘s been told to you and see if actually there’s some value in it, instead of assuming that you actually have all the answers.”

The Olympic champion has long been a fan of Norman's, going on to describe how the golfer had been an unexpectedly pivotal force in his memorable gold medal win in the 1500m freestyle at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Looking to defend his gold medal from the 1992 games, the world was stunned when Perkins qualified a lowly eighth for the final.

Perkins said then-Australian coach Don Talbot had spotted Norman in the stands soon after the qualification, and invited the superstar to meet Perkins - a moment the champion swimmer said was crucial.

“He came down the pool I never met him. We had one of those shoot the breeze conversations about nice weather and enjoying the games, blah, blah, blah," Perkins began.

"And we just got to that moment there was nothing else to talk about when he said to me 'looks like you had a rough morning this morning. You’re a great champion, you know what you’re doing. You’ll be fine'.

“And it was it was a centring moment. It was kind of one of those actually I don’t need to panic here.

"Takes me what, 10 seconds to say that, it took me 24 hours to work it out properly but I got there in the end.”

Kieran Perkins implores Greg Norman to see LIV Golf downside

Norman drew strong criticism for comments he made regarding the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's alleged involvement in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, where he appeared to defend his benefactor.

"We've all made mistakes, and you just want to learn from those mistakes and how you can correct them going forward," Norman said in May.

Perkins said innovation within sport could not be more important than promoting inclusivity.

"I understand and appreciate the need to disrupt sport and make it better, and the opportunity to create more competitive pathways that help athletes receive the benefit they deserve," he said.

"(But) opening the door for more inclusion is incredibly important."

The civil war between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf is causing havoc within the game and causing friendships to break down.

The PGA Tour has suspended players who have defected to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf, with the matter set to head to the courts.

Former world No.1 Adam Scott doesn't see LIV Golf as "pure evil", and insists his relationship with Norman hasn't changed despite upheaval caused by the breakaway league.

Adam Scott says his stance against LIV Golf hasn't damaged his relationship with figurehead Greg Norman in any way. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Adam Scott says his stance against LIV Golf hasn't damaged his relationship with figurehead Greg Norman in any way. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Scott, the 2013 Masters winner, is staying on the PGA Tour in a bid to win more major titles.

But the 42-year-old Australian doesn't want the two organisations to tear each other down.

"I haven't really seen much friction face to face by guys (but) there's definitely been some feelings hurt and some friendships strained," Scott said in a teleconference on Friday.

"I'm not trying to play a peacemaker. Maybe because I'm a little less emotive about it, I can be a voice of reason for one side or the other.

"I don't necessarily see LIV as pure evil for the game of golf. It's also providing some interesting opportunities from the PGA Tour side as well.

"Hopefully we can get beyond everyone having shots at each other, and each organisation can move on."

Australian great Norman has taken criticism for his decision to become the face of LIV Golf as CEO.

But Scott insists he isn't among the people who feels animosity towards Norman.

"Definitely not," he said.

"This is something he truly believes in and I don't begrudge him for going for it one bit at all.

"Sure, it's rocked the orders of golf, which has never really happened in this way before.

"But I'm optimistic that people's (intentions) are still good, and therefore we will come to a better place ultimately going forward."

With AAP

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