Greg Norman has reignited his war of wards with Tiger Woods, claiming the 15-time major winner was a ‘mouthpiece’ for the PGA who ignored the reality of LIV Golf.
The breakaway tour and the PGA have been at loggerheads since the former arrived onto the scene amid much fanfare and controversy last year.
Bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), LIV Golf has relied on nine-figure sums to lure some of the game’s brightest stars away from the PGA Tour, placing further strain on an already acrimonious relationship.
Greg Norman has accused Tiger Woods of being a ‘mouthpiece’ for the PGA
In November Woods suggested Norman would have to walk away from the LIV Golf if there was to be any prospect of peace between golf’s warring factions.
But the Australian, who serves as LIV Golf chief executive, hit back on Sunday.
‘[Woods] doesn’t know the facts […] because, obviously, I’m still here,’ Norman said on Fox News’s One Nation with Brian Kilmeade.
‘Just making those comments, I think, is an indication that he might be a bit of a mouthpiece for the PGA Tour to try and do – to get us to create – or get turmoil, create it internally within LIV.
Woods said in November that Norman would have to step down if LIV and the PGA Tour were to end their feud and bridge the gap between them
‘But it’s not happening. We are fully entrenched. We know where we’re going. We know what we’re doing.’
In September, Norman insisted he had no intention to offer an olive branch to the PGA Tour and to LIV’s critics.
Since its inception, the breakaway tour has been accused of being a ‘sportswashing’ vehicle for Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
The players who have defected to LIV, meanwhile, have been vehemently criticised for trading the prestige of playing in prestigious tournaments such as the Ryder Cup for money.
Cameron Smith (left) and Dustin Johnson (right) are two of LIV’s most high-profile defectors
The PGA Tour, meanwhile, has hit back by banning the defectors from its tournament, although LIV players can still feature in the majors if they meet they qualifying criteria.
Norman acknowledged that PIF was the tour’s sole backer, but insisted Saudi Arabia had limited involvement in the running of the tour.
‘PIF is our single-source investor. There’s no question about that, no denying about that,’ he said.
‘But everything is up to LIV Golf Investments. It’s up to me and my executive team to run and govern this thing going forward.’
Norman acknowledged the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, which is governed by Yasir Al-Rumayyan (right), was LIV Golf’s sole backer but batted away claims of sportswashing
The two-time major winner also accused the PGA of hypocrisy, noting a number of its sponsors were major investors in Saudi Arabia.
‘There’s 23 PGA Tour sponsors who invest up to $40 billion into Saudi Arabia,’ he continued.
‘Why – why don’t people come down on them? So, there’s the big question mark of why they’re attacking our credibility.’
In August, the PGA Tour announced a major revamp of its financial structure, revealing all the players on tour will receive a minimum salary of $500,000 (AUD $714,000)
Prize money was also increased to keep pace with LIV, with the new average purse now in the region of $20million (AUD $28.6million).
Alongside Rory McIlroy (left), Woods has been one of the most vehement critics of LIV Golf
But Woods, who alongside Rory McIlroy has been by far the most prominent critic of LIV, admitted the PGA Tour faced a losing battle in trying to match the breakaway tour’s financial might.
‘They want to be a validated tour with world ranking points and they’re buying up tours around the world and I don’t know what their end game is,’ he said.
‘It might be just being an official member of the golf ecosystem and being recognised with world ranking points.
‘I think that’s what their intended goal is. You know, they’ve spent probably close to $2billion this year. Who’s to say they can’t spend $4bn or $5bn next year? We just don’t know. It’s an endless pit of money.’