Greg Norman throws Phil Mickelson under the bus in $3b golf war

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·Sports Reporter
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Former golfer Greg Norman (pictured left) during a press conference and (pictured right) Phil Mickelson during a tournament.
Former golfer Greg Norman (pictured left) has revealed Phil Mickelson's (pictured right) comments about the LIV Golf Invitational Series hurt the breakaway group. (Getty Images)

Aussie golf icon Greg Norman has revealed Phil Mickelson's comments about the Super Golf League momentarily derailed the $3 billion breakaway group.

Norman is the CEO of LIV Golf Invitational Series, formerly known as the Super Golf League, which was reportedly throwing $3 billion towards a breakaway league to compete with the PGA Tour.

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However, former World No.1 Mickelson hasn't played on the Tour since sparking outrage in February following publication of his remarks made last year to author Alan Shipnuck concerning the new Saudi-funded venture.

Mickelson described the Saudi financial backers of the proposed league as "scary" with a "horrible record on human rights", but said he was willing to deal with them in order to gain leverage to "reshape" the US PGA Tour.

The comments caused widespread criticism prompting Mickelson to later apologise and step away from the PGA Tour, even skipping the Masters at Augusta.

Now, Norman has claimed the comments impacted the breakaway league's momentum.

"There's no question (it) hurt. It hurt a lot of aspects," Norman told ESPN.

"It hurt the PGA Tour. It hurt us. It hurt the game of golf. It hurt Phil. So yeah, across all fronts. It wasn't just specifically to us. But it definitely created negative momentum against us."

Norman made the big claim that up to 30 per cent of the World's Top 50 players had agreed to participate in the lucrative league.

Phil Mickelson (pictured) reacting after a golf shot.
Greg Norman said Phil Mickelson's (pictured) comments about the LIV Invitational Series hurt the breakaway group. (Photo by Oisin Keniry/Getty Images)

But, Mickelson's comments appeared to dissuade many of those players as they all recommitted to the PGA Tour.

"Quite honestly, we were ready to launch (in February)," Norman said to ESPN.

"We had enough players in our strength of field, or minimal viable product, ready to come on board.

"And when all of that happened, everybody got the jitters, and the PGA Tour threatened people with lifetime bans and stuff like that."

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The Invitational Series has now been scaled back to an eight tournament schedule and will offer up a jaw-dropping $361 million in prize money.

And since the drama, Mickelson has filed a request to the PGA to take part in the series.

However, he also wants to remain part of the PGA Tour and compete at the PGA Championship and US Open.

"Our client Phil Mickelson is officially registered to play in the PGA Championship as well as the US Open," long-time manager Steve Loy of Sportfive said on Monday.

Phil Mickelson (pictured right) and Greg Norman (pictured left), CEO of Liv Golf Investments, interact during a practice round prior to the PIF Saudi International.
Phil Mickelson (pictured right) and Greg Norman (pictured left), CEO of Liv Golf Investments, interact during a practice round prior to the PIF Saudi International. (Photo by Luke Walker/WME IMG/WME IMG via Getty Images)

"We have also filed a request on his behalf for a release to play in the first LIV Golf Invitational in London, June 9-11.

"This request complies with the deadline of April 25 set forth by the PGA Tour to compete in a conflicting tour event.

"Phil currently has no concrete plans on when and where he will play.

"Any actions taken are in no way a reflection of a final decision made, but rather to keep all options open."

with AAP

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