Jack Nicklaus insists his 'allegiance' is with PGA Tour after Saudi league meeting
Jack Nicklaus again insisted that he wants nothing to do with the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.
Nicklaus told The Fire Pit Collective earlier this month that he was offered more than $100 million to run the LIV Golf Invitational Series, something he said he repeatedly turned down. Hall of Famer Greg Norman instead took the job; it’s unclear how much he is being paid.
Nicklaus confirmed that those meetings took place Tuesday, and said he took those meetings because he has been working on building a course in that country in recent years.
"I did it out of courtesy to them because we're doing a golf course for them," Nicklaus said. "I've got zero interest in wanting to do something like that. I don't care what kind of money they would have thrown at me. My allegiance has been to the PGA Tour. I grew up on the PGA Tour. I helped found the PGA Tour as it is today. My allegiance is there, and it's going to stay there."
Jack Nicklaus trying to distance himself from Saudi tour
Nicklaus, like so many others in the golf world, is again trying to distance himself from the controversial Saudi golf league.
Though Nickalus insisted that he turned it down, his company says it isn't that simple.
Nicklaus is currently being sued by his own company, Nicklaus Companies. The group filed a lawsuit against him claiming that he worked directly against the company on multiple occasions, and that he failed to live up to a $145 million deal they reached back in 2007.
Among those complaints, Nicklaus Companies said it was the one that stopped Nicklaus from accepting the Saudi offer.
“The Company essentially saved Mr. Nicklaus from himself by extricating him from a controversial project that could have not only tarnished his legacy and reputation, but severely damaged the Nicklaus Companies’ name, brands and business,” the lawsuit reads.
“Thanks to the intervention of Nicklaus Companies, the Company was able to minimize fallout from the situation and protect the goodwill and good name of both the Company and Mr. Nicklaus … If not for the efforts of Nicklaus Companies, Mr. Nicklaus could have been pilloried in the news media for accepting payment for what could be characterized as betraying the PGA Tour.”
Lawsuit aside, Nicklaus said again Tuesday that he is focused on the PGA Tour — which makes sense, considering how much of an impact he has had on it. He was a founding member, won 72 times on the Tour and won a record 18 major championships. The 82-year-old was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974.
The first LIV Golf event is set to take place next week in London. The field was released Tuesday night, and included several big PGA Tour names, including Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood.
Though Nicklaus isn’t going to be part of it, he said he doesn’t care what that league ends up doing as long as it’s helping the greater good.
“One of my big things has always been to grow the game of golf,” he said. “If this helps grow the game of golf, you know, I don't have any — what difference does it make to me where our players are coming from? They're coming from all over the world.
“If it grows the game and benefits some people and spreads the game, fine.”
Nicklaus then quickly shut that topic down for the week.
“But I think we've had enough of that,” he added. “Let's talk about the Memorial Tournament.”
Whether Nicklaus likes it or not, the LIV Golf Invitational Series is sure to keep overshadowing his tournament this week.