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Greg Norman: Players who signed LIV contracts gave money back after Mickelson’s Saudi comments



Just how ready was the Saudi Golf League when Phil Mickelson made those comments in an interview with Alan Shipnuck?

Five days ago, Golf WRX published a story on the ‘will-he-won’t-he?’ saga involving the defending PGA Champion, his place in that field and/or at the first of the LIV Golf International Series events, with LIV chairman Greg Norman commenting that the furore was a ‘gut punch.’

Yesterday, ESPN released an interview with Norman, in which he explained just how damaging those published comments were.

“There’s no question (Mickelson’s comments) hurt,” confirmed Norman. “It hurt a lot of aspects. It hurt the PGA Tour. It hurt us. It hurt the game of golf. It hurt Phil. So yeah, across all fronts. It wasn’t just specifically to us. But it definitely created negative momentum against us.”

According to Norman, the league was prepared to launch a 14-event series during the Genesis Invitational, an event that started on February 17th. However, Shipnuck published the interview just two days before, on the 15th, causing the domino effect described by Norman.

Having been the most vociferous of supporters in favour of the league, Mickelson was reported as listing some human rights crimes before commenting, “Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”

That comment saw many of the top players distance themselves from the Saudi-backed initiative and pledge their allegiance to the PGA Tour, with speculation around exactly how many and who had actually signed up.

Norman confirmed the speed of the change:

“Quite honestly, we were ready to launch on the Tuesday or Wednesday of Genesis. We had enough players in our strength of field, or minimal viable product, ready to come on board. And when all of that happened, everybody got the jitters, and the PGA Tour threatened people with lifetime bans and stuff like that.”

However, despite the continual threats of legal action, the threat of bans from tours and losing public face, Norman said that the eight-event tour is still full and ready to go.

“To this day, we still have players under contract and signed,” he said. “The ones who wanted to get out because of the pressure of the PGA Tour gave back their money and got out. Guys had money in their pockets.”

Whilst Mickelson still has yet to decide exactly what his next move will be, Norman confirmed he will always be welcome to join:

“He’s always going to have an open door,” Norman said. “It’s going to be his decision, his decision only. He’s got a few things he has to work out himself, obviously, with the PGA Tour and where he wants to go with them and how he wants to go with them. I can’t read Phil’s mind because I haven’t spoken with him. From our perspective, I’m always going to be consistent in that I respect Phil. I respect what he’s done for the game of golf, and he’s always going to have an open door to any golf tournament he wants to go play as far as I’m concerned.”

He continued by suggesting that LIV Golf has received over 200 registration requests for its first tournament, to be held at Centurion Golf Club in London on June 9-11, a list that includes around 15 of the world’s top ranked 100 players, and two players who are ex-world number one.

“I’ve been very pleasantly surprised. What has been talked about in the media and what is reality are two different things. We know what’s happening with a lot of interest expressed. From an expectation standpoint, we’ve got a lot of interest from significantly named players. Our mission is to be patient, and we’re going to deliver these events and it’s up to the players to make their decision on what they want to do as independent contractors.”

With the PGA Tour requesting players apply for ‘leave’ to play the first event, the DP World Tour (ex-European Tour) is also seeing a threat to its format, with several of the LIV events taking pace opposite long-standing tournaments such as the Irish Open.

DP World Tour CEO, Keith Pelley, released a memo a couple of weeks ago, advising members that:

“Conflicting events, regardless of how attractive they might appear to you personally, potentially compromise our efforts in these areas and could significantly hurt your tour in both the short and long term. Please continue to bear this bigger picture in mind.”

Norman doesn’t seem that bothered, commenting:

“The European tour is starting to pound their chest a little bit with the players. What I’m hearing from the players is that (the DP World Tour) is saying there are going to be serious consequences if you go play without a release, and if you do put in for a release, you’re not going to get one. That’s logical rhetoric coming from the European tour.”

He concluded the thought: “But the pure fact is they’re now partners with the PGA Tour, so they’ve got to sing the same song that the PGA Tour was singing.”

Is Norman concerned at all about the threats surrounding the approaches, contracts and players’ rights with only five weeks to go until lift-off?

“I can only speak on information given to me by our legal team, and I have an extremely talented legal team in antitrust and anti-competitive laws, and we believe we’re in the right position.”We believe the players are independent contractors and have a right to go play wherever they want to go play.”

The next month should be fun!

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  1. Pingback: Greg Norman responds after being denied Open Championship exemption – GolfWRX

  2. Bob

    May 3, 2022 at 12:34 pm

    I expect the bone saw mafia will go active here shortly on those who quit, regardless that they gave the worthless paper back.

    • Bob

      May 3, 2022 at 12:36 pm

      ** will go active here shortly on those who quit for giving the worthless paper back.

  3. dr. bloor

    May 3, 2022 at 7:44 am

    Wherein we are reminded that there isn’t anyone Greg won’t throw under the bus while he’s busy stuffing his pockets with cash.

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Morning 9: Rory on rollback I More LIV ratings I 19-putt Augusta round



By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

March 23, 2023

Good Thursday morning, golf fans, and a big thank you to our friends at Golf Guru for sponsoring today’s Morning 9.

1. Rory on rollback

Our Matt Vincenzi…In a surprising turn of events, Rory McIlroy has stated that he believes the controversial proposal that would result in the bifurcation of the golf ball would be a good thing for the game of golf.

  • The four-time major champion appeared on the “No Laying Up” Podcast this week, and talked about the potential changes.
  • “I’ve been pretty adamant that I don’t really want the governing bodies to touch the recreational golfer because we need to make this game as not intimidating and as much fun as possible, just to try to keep the participation levels at an all-time high,” he said.
  • “So, I’m glad in this new proposal that they haven’t touched the recreational golfer. But for elite level play, I really like it. I really do. I know that’s a really unpopular opinion amongst my peers, but I think it’s going to help identify who the best players are a bit easier.”
  • “I think you’re going to see people with more well-rounded games succeed easier than what the game has become, which is a bit bomb and gouge over these last few years.”
  • “Selfishly, I think it helps me. I think this is only going to help the better player. You know, it might help the longer player, too, in some ways. But I think it’s going to help the overall professional game.
  • “I think making guys hit some long irons again, and some mid irons, and being able to hit every club in your bag in a round of golf. I can’t remember the last time when I’ve had to do that. I don’t know if this change in the ball will make us do that, but it certainly is a step closer to that.”
  • “I was once of the opinion that, you know, they don’t try to make Formula 1 cars go slower. Innovation is a part of every sport. It’s a part of every industry. But whenever that innovation outgrows the footprint of the game, that’s when I think we have a problem.”

Listen to the full NLU pod here.

Full piece.

2. More on LIV ratings

Adam Woodard for Golfweek…”The viewership reports are starting to roll through for the second LIV Golf League event of the season, and early numbers aren’t great for the Saudi Arabia-backed circuit.”

  • “The Sports Business Journal, citing a source with numbers from Nielsen, reported last week’s LIV Golf Tucson event had an average of 274,000 viewers on the CW for Sunday’s final round from Gallery Golf Club in Marana, Arizona, after an average of 284,000 viewers for Saturday’s second round. At LIV Golf Mayakoba, the season opener last month, the CW averaged 286,000 viewers for Saturday’s second round and 291,000 for Sunday’s final round. Friday’s opening rounds are only available via the CW app and other digital streams.”
  • “Outside of the viewership, the SBJ report also claimed that 24 percent of homes – or 29 million – in the United States were unable to watch LIV Golf Tucson on television because their local CW affiliate did not carry the coverage in the 1-6 p.m. ET window.”
Full piece.

3. Busbee on LIV

Golfweek’s Jay Busbee…”LIV Golf’s first season comprised 10 no-cut, high-purse events. The result was so successful — from an attention-grabbing standpoint, at least — that LIV executed its 2024 plans in 2023, upping the schedule from 10 to 14 events. At the same time, LIV has been increasing the focus and emphasis on its four-man teams.”

  • “Combined, those two forces have LIV’s players a bit concerned, as the Fire Pit Collective reported from the tour’s second event in Tucson. Players have expressed some concern that their contracts were for 10 events and they’re now expected to play 14, and that money won by the team goes back into the team, rather than directly to the players themselves.”
  • “Although LIV is backed by the virtually limitless resources of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the stream of those resources to LIV apparently isn’t limitless. The Fire Pit noted the newly cost-conscious approaches to daily tour life, from travel expense cutbacks to small amenities like snacks.”
Full piece.


From Rex Hoggard’s eulogy for the series…”For most, this week is the end of an era that began in 1999, when then-commissioner Tim Finchem’s plan for what he originally called “world championship events” began with the Match Play in February at La Costa, just north of San Diego. Jeff Maggert won that first WGC, cashing a princely $1 million winner’s check, followed by Tiger Woods’ victory six months later at the WGC-NEC Invitational at Firestone and again later that fall at the WGC-American Express Championship in Spain. Woods played 46 WGCs in his career and won 18 of them, which is the most efficient way to assess the relative success of the World Golf Championships. Top players competing more often for large purses – check, check and check.”

  • “Finchem’s grand plan to gather the game’s best more often at big-budget events (again, sound familiar?) was, with notable distinctions, a 2 ½-decade success, but the more pressing question as the WGCs inch toward their ultimate demise is how they arrived at this ending.”
Full piece.

5. Chasing dreams, trailers in tow

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”If Rob Rennell has one regret, it’s that he didn’t buy a fifth wheel sooner. Rennell estimates that traveling the junior golf circuit by trailer with daughter Riley would’ve cut the family’s expenses in half. Rob and Riley have been practicing in Scottsdale, Arizona, for the past three months while their 42-foot trailer is parked at Eagle View RV Resort at Fort McDowell.”

  • “It’s almost like an apartment,” said Riley of the setup, which includes two bedrooms and two bathrooms. RV life allows Riley to bring her dog Alex and kitten Frankie on tour.
  • “The Rennells also have a 40-acre farm in Columbia, Tennessee, which supplies hay for the cattle ranches that surround. Kendra Rennell, who was back home overseeing roof repairs at the farm, recently made her way out west to watch Riley make her LPGA debut this week at the Drive On Championship at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club in Gold Canyon, Arizona.”
Full piece.

6. Captain Catriona Matthew to make history

Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…”For those who don’t follow the Curtis Cup closely, the appointment of Catriona Matthew as captain of the 2024 Great Britain and Ireland team at Sunningdale might seem like a no-brainer. Of course she’s qualified for such a position as the three-time Curtis Cupper and major champion became the first captain to lead Europe to back-to-back Solheim Cup victories in 2019 and 2021.”

  • “What’s historic about the appointment, however, is that a professional player has never captained a Curtis Cup team. Matthew will be the first LPGA pro to lead the team of eight in the biennial competition against Team USA. GB&I last won the Curtis Cup in 2016 at Dun Laoghaire.”
Full piece.

7. New Tom Watson designed Augusta course

Michael McEwan for Bunkered…”If you’re an avid user of golf Twitter, you’ll likely have heard rumours of a new golf course coming to Augusta.

  • “…Say hello to Cypress Shoals, a brand-new development in the north of the city, bordering the Savannah River and the Sumter National Forest, just four-and-a-half miles from Masters host venue Augusta National”
  • “First spotted by the Eureka Earth Twitter account, the “multi-generational, mixed-use development” is positioning itself as “America’s Next Great Masterpiece.”
  • “Designed for outdoor enthusiasts that enjoy active lifestyles, Cypress Shoals is the perfect combination of luxury and ease of access without compromising the tranquility of exclusivity, the privacy of seclusion as well as absolute security.”
  • “The development will include two 18-hole golf courses, one of which will be designed by two-time Masters champ Tom Watson.”
Full piece.

8. Rory’s 19-putt Augusta National round

Cameron Jourdan for Golfweek…”The Masters is two weeks away, and plenty of players have made their way to Augusta, Georgia, in recent weeks to get some practice in.”

  • “World No. 3 Rory McIlroy is one of those players. He went last week between missing the cut at the Players Championship and ahead of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. And one of his rounds seems to have been pretty special.”
  • “After beating Scott Stallings 3 and 1 in his first match Wednesday at Austin Country Club, McIlroy was asked about a rumor he had 19 putts during one of his practice rounds, and he didn’t exactly shoot that statement down.”
  • “Yeah, look, I had two good days,” McIlroy said. “We played 54 holes in two days, and it was good. I was really happy with where my game was.”
Full piece.

9. Photos from the WGC Match Play

  • Check out all of our galleries here!
Full piece.
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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2023 WGC-Dell Match Play



GolfWRX was on site in Austin for the Dell Technologies Match Play where players had a short week of preparation prior to a long week of play with matches getting underway Wednesday.

As GolfWRXers well know, the tournament’s format is unique in that it is a match play event, meaning that players compete against each other in head-to-head matches rather than the traditional stroke play format. Over the years, the tournament has seen many great champions, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Rory McIlroy. Last year, Scottie Scheffler took down Kevin Kisner 4&3 and claimed the $2.1 million winner’s share.

There was plenty to see at Austin Country Club with six WITBs — including World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, five general galleries, and several interesting pull-outs — including a look at a pair of Tom Kim’s custom Scotty Cameron putters.

Check out links to all our photos from the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play below.

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums

See what GolfWRXers are saying and join the discussion in the forums.

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Morning 9: Match Play groups | Netflix didn’t use best content? | LPGA Q-Series changes



By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco.

For comments: [email protected]

March 22, 2023

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans, as day one of the WGC Match Play gets underway.

1. Your Match Play groups

Group 1

Scottie Scheffler (1)

Tom Kim (17)

Alex Noren (38)

Davis Riley (54)

Group 2

Jon Rahm (2)

Billy Horschel (22)

Keith Mitchell (39)

Rickie Fowler (49)

Group 3

Rory McIlroy (3)

Keegan Bradley (20)

Denny McCarthy (48)

Scott Stallings (52)

Group 4

Patrick Cantlay (4)

Brian Harman (25)

K.H. Lee (35)

Nick Taylor (55)

Group 5

Max Homa (5)

Hideki Matsuyama (18)

Kevin Kisner (42)

Justin Suh (63)

Group 6

Xander Schauffele (6)

Tom Hoge (23)

Aaron Wise (40)

Cam Davis (64)

Group 7

Will Zalatoris (7)

Ryan Fox (29)

Harris English (37)

Andrew Putnam (56)

Group 8

Viktor Hovland (8)

Chris Kirk (28)

Si Woo Kim (34)

Matt Kuchar (59)

Group 9

Collin Morikawa (9)

Jason Day (32)

Adam Svensson (44)

Victor Perez (51)

Group 10

Tony Finau (10)

Kurt Kitayama (19)

Adrian Meronk (45)

Christiaan Bezuidenhout (60)

Group 11

Matt Fitzpatrick (11)

Sahith Theegala (26)

Min Woo Lee (41)

J.J. Spaun (61)

Group 12

Jordan Spieth (12)

Shane Lowry (21)

Taylor Montgomery (47)

Mackenzie Hughes (50)

Group 13

Sam Burns (13)

Seamus Power (30)

Adam Scott (33)

Adam Hadwin (53)

Group 14

Tyrrell Hatton (14)

Russell Henley (31)

Lucas Herbert (46)

Ben Griffin (62)

Group 15

Cameron Young (15)

Sepp Straka (27)

Corey Conners (36)

Davis Thompson (57)

Group 16

Sungjae Im (16)

Tommy Fleetwood (24)

J.T. Poston (43)

Maverick McNealy (58)

2. Dahmen: Netflix didn’t use the good stuff!

Golfweek’s Tim Schmitt…”But while all the notoriety has made Dahmen more recognizable to golf fans, he doesn’t seem to be letting the spotlight swallow him up.”

  • “I think overall it was really good. I think they did a good job of telling our story,” Dahmen said. “We have a unique friendship, brotherhood, whatever you want to call it.
  • “But we gave them a lot of content that could have been very funny and they could have went another way with it.”
  • “What kind of content?”
  • “Dahmen won’t reveal.”
Full piece.

3. LPGA Q-Series changes

Golf Channel’s Patricia Duffy…”The LPGA announced Tuesday that, starting with the 2023 LPGA Q-Series, the final stage will be reduced from eight rounds to six rounds.”

  • “The change in number of rounds is the first since the inaugural LPGA Q-Series in 2018, which debuted with two 72-hole (eight rounds), stroke-play events held in consecutive weeks. Prior to 2018, the final stage of qualifying consisted of five rounds over one week.”
  • “Based upon feedback from players and research conducted over past LPGA Q-Series results, it was determined that six rounds is an adequate measure and challenging test for those competing for LPGA Tour status,” said Tommy Tangtiphaiboontana, senior vice president of LPGA operations. “This modification allows the entire competition to be played at one facility in consecutive rounds, with no change in venue between weeks.”
Full piece.

4. Scheffler returns to Augusta

Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…”It was a predictably emotional return to Augusta National for Scottie Scheffler last week.”

  • “The Masters champion went to Augusta National last Monday and Tuesday as part of a scouting trip that doubled as a stroll down memory lane.”
  • “That was really one of the first times where winning the Masters felt real. Because we got back on property, I’d just come off the win at The Players, so our celebration kind of was just going to play Augusta,” Scheffler said Tuesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where he’s the defending champion. “That was really one of the first times where it felt real that I had won the Masters.”
  • “Scheffler played the course twice with a group of friends, including his longtime swing coach Randy Smith, and said two changes since last year’s Masters stood out, including a new tee on the par-5 13th hole that’s added about 35 yards.”
Full piece.

5. Report: McIlroy plays Augusta, drives the ball beautifully

GolfWRX staff report…”As we inch closer to the 2023 Masters, anticipation grows over the fate of Rory McIlroy, who will once again go to Augusta with the hope of capturing the only major that has so far eluded him.”

  • “McIlroy’s form since last teeing it up at Augusta National has been stellar, but recent grumblings from the Irishman concerning his driver have his legion of fans concerned.”
  • “Following a dismal showing at the opening round of the Players, McIlroy let off some steam saying he wished he could use his driver from last year, alluding to the fact that the previous model’s face may no longer be conforming. The 33-year-old admitted to “user error” when it came to his current big stick, but since then, speculation has been rife that the 4-time major champ may make a big change in the bag for the Masters.”
  • “This week, a fan account claimed from sources that McIlroy was set to make “big changes”, which had golf fans wondering if a change in driver could be on the horizon.”
  • “However, per a report from Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis, McIlroy drove the ball “beautifully” during the two rounds on a recent trip to Augusta, where he apparently used a shorter driver shaft while keeping his TaylorMade Stealth 2 head.”
Full piece.

6. TaylorMade issues rollback rebuttal

GolfWRX staff report…”Titleist and Bridgestone are no longer alone in addressing the recent USGA/R&A proposal to lower the maximum distance of golf balls used for professional tour and elite amateur events, as TaylorMade Golf, today, has also released a statement on the matter.”

  • “And, in a unique move, the company is urging regular golfers to participate in a survey that will help to assess the broader golf community’s response to the proposed modifications.”
  • “The full text of TaylorMade’s statement is below.”
  • “The USGA and R&A recently announced a proposal to create a Model Local Rule where highly skilled golfers must use a different golf ball from 2026 onwards. This will introduce bifurcation into our sport, meaning that you – the golfer – will play with different equipment than the professionals.
  • “We believe a large part of golf’s appeal is this underlying sense of: “I can do that, too.” And using the same equipment as the pros gives us a more accurate feel for how talented these players are. Most of us will never know what it’s like to play in Madison Square Garden, throw a touchdown in the Super Bowl, or score the game-winning goal in a World Cup final, but we can go to St. Andrews, walk across the Swilcan Bridge and for a moment feel what it’s like to be a professional. Walk in their shoes, play the same courses, and use the same equipment. It’s all part of why we love this sport.
  • “The USGA and R&A have provided a window in which all manufacturers can provide feedback on this proposal and its potential impact.
  • “As we absorbed this announcement and tried to understand the why, as well as the impact, all of our conversations came back to one place – you, the golfer. We want your voice to be heard, so please, let us know what you think.”
  • “We invite you to be part of the conversation and to be part of our feedback to the USGA and R&A: Take the survey here.”
Full piece.

7. Ian Poulter on Ryder Cup captaincy

Elliott Heath for Golf Monthly…”Ian Poulter has said if Ryder Cup Europe chose not to have a LIV Golf player as captain then “shame on them” after answering fan questions on Instagram.”

  • “The Englishman was expected to be European captain for the 2025 match at Bethpage Black in New York but his future captaincy days seem numbered following Henrik Stenson’s removal as 2023 skipper.”
  • “Poulter was asked if he thinks LIV Golf will last, with the fan saying they were “gutted” that the seven-time Ryder Cupper probably won’t get a chance to captain Europe.”
Full piece.

8. Simpson cracks the code to Scheffler’s success

Our Jason Daniels…”After the third round of the Valspar Championship, the 2012 U.S Open winner said Scheffler’s stance was “a whole different level of commitment,” confirming what long-term caddie, Paul Tesori, had previously told reporters – “I think he [Simpson] would give up food before he gave up coffee.”

  • “Simpson leaves Scottie well behind in his dedication, bringing his own coffee machine on the road, and having “typically, three or four before lunch, one post-lunch, and one right before dinner.”
  • “He does admit that, “on the road, I gotta scale down a bit………you know, a lot of caffeine’s not good for the short putts,” so he has a couple in the morning and “always one after the round, no matter how late I finish.”
  • “Has Webb ever considered going the Scottie route?”
  • “No,” he says, shaking his head. “I mean, that’s another whole new level of commitment, probably why he’s number one in the world.”
  • “There is a but, with Webb finishing off by saying,”
  • “I’m willing to trade those moments of happiness in the morning for a couple of shots a year. It might cost me.”
Full piece.

9. Rory WITB

Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (9 degrees)

Shaft: Fujikura Ventus TR Blue 6 X

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15 degrees @13)

Shaft: Fujikura Ventus TR Blue 8 X

5-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (18 degrees @16)

Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 9 X

Irons: TaylorMade P760 (3, 4) TaylorMade Rors Proto (5-PW)

Shaft: Project X 7.0

Wedges: TaylorMade MG3 Raw (54), WedgeWorks Proto (58 @59)

Shafts: Project X 6.5

Putter: Scotty Cameron 009M prototype

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x (#22)

Grips: Golf Pride MCC

Full piece.
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