LIV Golf is the result of Greg Norman’s 28-year grudge with the PGA Tour

Greg Norman is no doubt paid an obscene amount of money as the figurehead of LIV Golf, but the 67-year-old’s biggest motivation in his ongoing battle with established circuits might be a snub old three decades.

The two-time major champion insists he has no hard feelings, but the rejection of his World Tour proposal in 1994 undoubtedly left the Shark at odds with the almighty PGA Tour.

Norman, at the time one of the main players in the game, wanted to set up a series of rich and limited tournaments that would complement the existing tours. Sound familiar?

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The Australian felt golf needed more of a global presence, certainly more than that offered by the US-based PGA Tour. At the time, the top five players in the world (Nick Price, Norman, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Jose Maria Olazabal) were all born outside the United States.

But the PGA Tour, then led by Tim Finchem, responded to the threat by sending a memo to its players warning that anyone taking part in a World Tour event would be suspended.

This is a remarkable parallel to what is being played out in the current dispute between the golf establishment and Norman’s LIV Golf.

Writing in his 2006 book, The Way of the Shark, Norman detailed his disillusionment with how it turned out.

“The more I thought about it, the more discouraged I became,” he wrote.

“The PGA Tour executives had reacted emotionally and defensively to our idea of ​​the World Tour. They failed to do their due diligence and acted too quickly – which is why incorrect statements were made.

“It became clear to me that Finchem really didn’t want to fix anything with us.

“It was also pretty clear to me that he was subtly accusing those of us associated with the World Tour of trying to enrich ourselves individually rather than doing what was best for golf.”

The International Federation of PGA Tours responded to the threat of a series of breakaways by creating the World Championships of Golf events in 1999, a series of tournaments designed to bring together the best players in the world outside of the four major championships held every year.

Originally intended to be played around the world, the overwhelming majority of WGC events have found their way to the United States, making them little more than an extension of the PGA Tour.

“I don’t believe this series has improved the internationalization of the game, and I would suspect that if the advice of the original members of the International PGA Tours Federation were sought, they would see no parity in the game today,” wrote Norman.

“In fact, most of the other tours are struggling compared to the PGA Tour.

“I don’t think the PGA Tour has done much to create unity between the different tours.

“I don’t believe the Tour ever had a genuine interest in developing such a series.”

Norman at one point received a souvenir from the WGC, at which point his true feelings were revealed.

“It was a small squishy ball with a map of the world on it, inscribed: World Golf Championships,” he wrote.

“I stood up, threw this little squishy ball against the wall as hard as I could and yelled, ‘Fk em’.”

There is no doubt that the PGA Tour has done irreparable damage to smaller tours around the world, such as the Australasian Tour. Where once the PGA Tour had a clearly defined off-season, the move to a wrap-up schedule a decade ago significantly hurt events such as the Australian Open, which took place during the American winter.

The PGA Tour has signaled a move away from the wrap-up schedule in recent months, but the damage in countries like Australia may already be done.

While LIV Golf has divided the sport, with Norman “uninvited” to the dinner of champions at this year’s Open Championship, he also lamented that the ill-fated World Tour cost him relationships with players he considered for a long time as good friends.

“Instead of saying, ‘Greg, you’ve got a great idea, let’s work together on this thing,’ the PGA Tour executives unleashed a propaganda machine that did a masterful job of portraying me as someone I’m not. not.

“All great change in the world has been accomplished by a few bold people who were unafraid to challenge the status quo. And they were still attacked because of it. In the case of the World Tour, I was the point man. I took the bullets.”

The Australian, who won the second of his Open championship titles in 1993, the year before he attempted to launch the World Golf Tour, said that experience was a factor in his decline as a force in the sport.

“This whole ordeal was pretty rough on me. I was hurt – and I was angry, very angry. That emotion, in turn, siphoned off a lot of my energy. I didn’t feel like going out anymore. and play golf,” he said. wrote.

“When I did, I asked myself, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’

“I just didn’t want to support the PGA Tour anymore. I now saw myself as nothing more than an intermediary entity, and I didn’t feel like doing anything to promote the PGA Tour anymore.”

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