September 25, 2023

Greg Norman’s victory lap with employees after the PGA Tour-LIV union may have been premature

Before Greg Norman decided to go all in for a new golf league that ultimately transformed the sport, he sold all of his properties in the United States, including a home on Jupiter Island, and prepared to move back to his native Australia.

Then the tour that would become known as LIV Golf happened. And Norman was back on the housing market.

Now, about two years later, Norman, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, may be looking for a buyer for that new home in Palm Beach Gardens and moving back to Australia for good.

As more details emerge about the transformational deal between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which owns LIV Golf, it appears Norman, the controversial public face of LIV Golf, is on the run .

‘Interested in seeing the details’: Golf great Jack Nicklaus reacts to PGA/LIV merger

It was enough that the man known as The Great White Shark was sidelined during seven weeks of negotiations between the team of PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and Kingdom PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan. Norman, 68, had no idea what was going on and was not made aware of the deal until minutes before the two sides went public.

Now we’ve learned that Monahan will oversee both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf when the agreement is finalized.

That means the man Norman has verbally argued and threatened with over the past year has the final say on the new venture, including whether any of the LIV concepts will be integrated and the reinstatement of LIV players like Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Phil. Mickelson to the PGA Tour.

April 21, 2023;  Adelaide, South Australia AUS;  Greg Norman on the training ground for the first round of the LIV Golf Adelaide golf tournament at Grange Golf Club.  Mandatory Credit: Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports

April 21, 2023; Adelaide, South Australia AUS; Greg Norman on the training ground for the first round of the LIV Golf Adelaide golf tournament at Grange Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports

Norman’s role? Considering his motivation behind LIV was his disdain for the PGA Tour dating back years, the chances of him having one are slim.

These two paragraphs in a Sports Illustrated report say it all:

  • The PGA Tour will still be called the PGA Tour, but Commissioner Jay Monahan now also oversees LIV Golf, and the PGA Tour remains a partner of the DP World Golf Tour. Monahan has told Al-Rumayyan that they will evaluate LIV at the end of the year.

  • If Monahan wants to disband LIV, he can. For LIV golfers to play on the Tour, Monahan and current PGA Tour leaders must approve the terms. Monahan has banned them; it is believed that the penalties for returning to the Tour will be significant.

Still, Norman rode a victory lap shortly after the deal was announced. According to reports, he gathered employees on a conference call and told them:

“Congratulations! You have changed golf and you have done so in less than a year. There will be no operational changes in 2023, 2024, 2025 and beyond. LIV is a standalone entity and will continue to be so in the future. And that comes from above.”

LIV remained largely irrelevant

Jimmy Dunne, the North Palm Beach resident who Monahan says was the man who was the architect behind the deal, believes LIV Golf never turned out the way Al-Rumayyan and the PIF expected. The league continued its interest in team golf; and the 54-hole, no-cut concept was panned by golf traditionalists.

This month marked a year since the first event, and LIV Golf continued to get fired and remain largely irrelevant without significant sponsors and a toothless television contract with the CW Network. Each event was seen as an exhibition, albeit a very profitable one for the golfers.

When Dunne, president of Seminole Golf Club who joined the PGA Tour’s board of directors last year, reached out to Al-Rumayyan, the man behind LIV Golf was eager to talk.

“He was more about increasing the pie and interest in the game, rather than ‘We’re going to do it X-way,'” Dunne told Sports Illustrated. “They have LIV, which on some level they have to think wasn’t what they hoped it would be. They have the option to join the PGA Tour, and that makes sense to them. And that’s it.”

This is not to say that LIV has not left its mark on the game. And this is where Norman can do a victory lap. LIV certainly got the attention of the PGA, which resulted in more money being pumped into the Tour through several $20 million scholarship events and the Player Impact Program.

When he told LIV employees “you switched golf,” he wasn’t wrong.

The years of civil war certainly didn’t help the reputation of the Tour of Monahan. When Monahan told reporters, “I recognize that people are going to call me a hypocrite,” he was right.

Yet LIV Golfers and Norman have lost all influence. Monahan has all the power. For the golfers, that means a very uncomfortable return to the Tour where they are initially cast as outsiders and face financial penalties, while those who remain loyal benefit.

But for many who have already made money, it really doesn’t matter. They got what they wanted… a lot of money. That was the reason they all joined LIV in the first place.

For Norman, this likely marks the end of his decades-long quest to stick to the Tour and the final chapter of his professional life set in Australia.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: With Jay Monahan at the helm, what’s next for Greg Norman after the PGA Tour-LIV deal?

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