Greg Norman forced into bizarre move as Aussie golf legend returns to Masters after ban

The Australian golf legend made an appearance at the Masters to cheer on his LIV stars.

Australian golf legend Greg Norman made his way onto the grounds of Augusta National on Wednesday, declaring he was there to cheer on his LIV stars. Norman returned to the iconic golf course as a paying customer, a year after he was publicly snubbed by Masters organisers.

Norman, who won two British Opens during his playing career and finished tied for second at the Masters on three occasions in the 1980s, is the figurehead of the divisive Saudi-backed LIV tour. Last year every head of the world’s main golf tours was invited to Augusta except Norman. It was a decision the man widely known as 'The Shark' labelled "petty".

Pictured left Greg Norman and right with Min Woo Lee
LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman returned to the grounds of Augusta National a year after the Australian was publicly snubbed by the Masters organisers. Image: Getty

But on Wednesday the 69-year-old was spotted among the crowd at a practice session by the Washington Post who said he was in attendance as a ticketed spectator. Norman was seen stalking the fairways and conversing with countryman Min Woo Lee during the traditional eve-of-tournament revelry.

Twice a Masters runner-up and arguably the greatest player to never win a famous green jacket, Norman was not welcome last year but insists he is incredibly popular this year. "Walking around here today, there's not one person who said to me, 'Why did you do LIV?'" Norman told the Washington Post while wearing a LIV Golf branded shirt and signature Akubra hat. Tickets for a practice round at the prestigious event start at around $200.

"There's been hundreds of people, even security guys, stopping me, saying, 'Hey, what you're doing is fantastic.' To me, that tells you that what we have and the platform fits within the ecosystem, and it's good for the game of golf."

The 69-year-old was spotted among the crowd on Wednesday, in attendance as a ticketed spectator. Image: Getty
The 69-year-old was spotted among the crowd on Wednesday, in attendance as a ticketed spectator. Image: Getty

Thirteen LIV golfers are set to take their place in the 89-man field, including seven former Masters champions. That is despite only Adrian Meronk and Englishman Tyrrell Hatton qualifying through the Official World Rankings - which LIV players don't receive on the Saudi-backed tour. "I think there's probably a couple (of LIV players) that have been overlooked that should be in," Norman said.

"What is that number? I'm not going to give it a definitive number, but they're definitely quality players that have done incredible performances over the last six to nine months that are worthy of it. I'm here because we have 13 players that won 10 Masters between them, so I'm here just to support them, do the best I can to show them, 'Hey, you know, the boss is here rooting for you'."


Augusta National chairman Fred Rodley says Greg Norman snubbing was nothing personal

Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said the former No.1 not getting an invite last year was nothing personal, insisting it was just to "keep the focus on the competition". "The primary issue and the driver there is that I want the focus this week to be on the Masters competition, on the great players that are participating, the greatest players in the world," Ridley said.

"By our decision in December (to allow LIV golfers to play), we ensured that we were going to honour and be consistent with our invitation criteria. I would also add that, in the last 10 years, Greg Norman has only been here twice, and I believe one of those was as a commentator for Sirius Radio. It really was to keep the focus on the competition."

Norman, who was also not invited to the landmark 150th British Open at St Andrews in 2022 despite being a two-time winner of the Claret Jug, described last year's snubbing as "petty".

"As a major winner I always was before, but they only sent me a grounds pass last year and nothing, zilch, this time around," said the Australian. "I'm disappointed because it's so petty but of course, I'll still be watching."

with AAP