Greg Norman’s Lobbyist Work for Saudi-Backed LIV Golf Labeled “Propaganda”
Norman's lunch meeting with the Republican Study Committee on Wednesday didn't go as planned
While the second week of April in 1996 was probably worse for Greg Norman because it started with him blowing a six-shot lead over the final 18 holes to lose the Masters “so thoroughly and publicly” that he “embarrassed himself,” it’s been a rough couple of days for LIV Golf’s CEO.
A day before he was scheduled to go to Washington to lobby Congress on behalf of the Saudi-backed golf series that he now fronts, Norman announced on social media that he will not be playing in a Florida golf tournament he founded more than three decades ago due to his involvement with LIV Golf.
A player in and host of the QBE Shootout since its inception in 1989, Norman said he “decided not to attend this year’s event so the focus can remain on the missions at hand” in an Instagram post. “Why one might ask? Perhaps it is because I am helping to give golf a new heartbeat, creating new value and delivering a new product that is loved by players, fans and broadcasters alike,” he wrote. “And in doing so, finally giving players their rights as independent contractors to benefit from their performance and brand. In some people’s mind this is too disruptive and evolution is perceived as a bad thing.”
Per QBE Shootout director Rob Hartman, event organizers spoke with Norman for months about the tournament and both sides made a collective decision for Norman not to attend. “As we got close, ultimately the decision was made that he was going to step back and really let the focus remain on our tremendous charitable partners,” Hartman told Naples Daily News.
Fresh off that slap in the face, 67-year-old Norman headed to Washington for a Wednesday lunch meeting with the Republican Study Committee to educate the group’s members on “LIV’s business model and counter the [PGA] Tour’s anti-competitive efforts.”
A member of that committee, Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee, walked out of the lunch meeting before taking to Twitter to mention Saudi Arabia’s connections to 9/11 and the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
“It’s propaganda,” Burchett told ESPN of Norman’s message. “I don’t want to hear about that. It’s not Congress’ business to settle a fight between a bunch of billionaires over a game of golf. They need to take it to the courts. Congress made a big mistake by getting involved in Major League Baseball. Here we are dealing with a [league] being funded by some Saudis. I just thought our priorities were out of whack.”
Norman spoke for about 20 minutes at the meeting to an audience made up of about 75 members of Congress. One of those attendees, Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, also indicated he was not impressed with what Norman had to say.
“Don’t come in here and act like you’re doing some great thing, while you’re pimping a billion dollars of Saudi Arabian money,” Roy said. “This isn’t about pure competition. Don’t come in here and try to sell me something that is not what you’re actually selling. You’re selling something that is very much in bed with the Saudis, so the Saudis can accomplish their objective and Greg can accomplish his. He’s always wanted to have a rival operation to take on the tour, and he’s been unable to do it until he got a billion-dollar sugar daddy known as the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Norman’s rough week continues today as the 2022 Presidents Cup tees off at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte without any LIV golfers in the field because they are banned from the tournament for being LIV golfers. Ouch.
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