Greg Norman's disappearing act ahead of first LIV golf event

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Greg Norman has reportedly declined all media requests ahead of LIV Golf's debut. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/LIV Golf/Getty Images)
Greg Norman has reportedly declined all media requests ahead of LIV Golf's debut. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/LIV Golf/Getty Images)

Greg Norman has reportedly shunned all media requests in the build-up to his highly controversial LIV Golf Championship, which gets underway in England this weekend.

The LIV Championship has attracted major scrutiny thanks to reported $3 billion investment from Saudi Arabia, which critics believe is part of an effort to improve the country's image.

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Critics of Saudi Arabia cite long running human rights abuses, as well as the suspected assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in their embassy in Turkey, as reasons behind their scepticism.

Saudi Arabia has been accused of attempting to 'sportswash' its image, with high profile investments also being made in Formula One - and being met with similar controversy.

Norman attracted substantial criticism last month when, after being asked about Saudi Arabia's human rights record, dismissed concerns by saying 'We've all made mistakes'.

With the LIV Championship set to get underway at the Centurion Club in St Albans this weekend, Norman has reportedly been keeping a low profile behind the scenes.

The likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Ian Poulter, as well as many other, have all faced tough questions from golfing media about their motivation for joining the breakaway championship - but Norman hasn't been sighted anywhere.

The LIV staff at the venue have fielded plenty of requests for the ever-forthright 67-year-old CEO to talk up his game-changing event, the richest anywhere in golf so far this year - but they've been told he won't speak in this week's build-up.

Instead, his only comments this week have been to the Washington Post, revealing Tiger Woods had spurned a near-billion dollar incentive to join LIV, accusing the saintly Jack Nicklaus of being a 'hypocrite' and suggesting LIV non-believer Rory McIlroy was being brainwashed.

Perhaps that was enough controversy to be going on with.

So Norman has left it to LIV's big-name recruits to face the inquisition instead of him - and it hasn't been pretty.

Greg Norman missing in action ahead of LIV Golf debut

Mickelson was asked if he was comfortable being seen as a Saudi stooge. Johnson was put on the spot about putting cash before country. Poulter was grilled about whether he'd play in a tournament run by Vladimir Putin if the money was right.

Yet never mind his recruits taking a verbal pounding, Norman can surely only be quietly celebrating a series of significant victories for LIV this week.

With Johnson and Kevin Na deserting the PGA Tour, and Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed now being reported to be jumping on to the LIV ship too, Norman's venture will have at least nine major winners on board come the end of the month, maybe more.

And that's even before a ball has been struck on Thursday at Centurion. Actually, make that 16 balls simultaneously around the course in the shotgun start.

Greg Norman has avoided questions from media, instead having the likes of Phil Mickelson and other players face scrutiny. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/LIV Golf/Getty Images)
Greg Norman has avoided questions from media, instead having the likes of Phil Mickelson and other players face scrutiny. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/LIV Golf/Getty Images)

For LIV boasts it's offering up golf - but not as we know it.

So, there'll be a fleet of London black cabs transporting the field of 48 players to their starting holes against the backdrop of an aerobatic display, a fans' village, kids' zone and metaverse tent, whatever that is.

There'll be a team competition running alongside the individual, with shorter, sharper action that doesn't drag on all day. It's more like T20 golf, one player suggested this week.

Then at the end of each of the three days, a big name will entertain punters in the "Apres Golf" concert spot.

On Saturday, the headliner will be Jessie J, who'll doubtless be crooning her now time-honoured line: "It's not about the money, money, money..."

Which is, of course, what the silent ringmaster has been protesting all along.

With AAP

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