LIV Golf kicked off its third event on Thursday at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Although it’s clear that LIV is going to be here to stay for a while, the criticisms, protests, and arguments against the Saudi-backed golf league aren’t going away either. CEO Greg Norman continues to tackle those controversies head-on.
When asked about the criticisms levied against LIV for taking money from Saudi Arabia, whose human rights track record is abysmal, Norman reiterated his previous comments that they are not trying to be political.
“We are not a political organization,” said Norman. “We are here to play golf, serve fans, grow the game, and give additional opportunities to players. I also have seen first-hand the good that golf can do around the world, and Saudi Arabia is no different.”
Families of the 9/11 victims have been protesting LIV Golf leading up to this weekend’s invitational, saying that they’re being paid in “blood money” to sports-wash Saudi Arabia. Norman offered his sympathies to the families but didn’t seem to feel as though the golfers making millions off the league owe them anything.
“I offer my deepest sympathy to the families of 9/11,” said Norman. “My heart goes out to anyone affected by that tragedy. While some may not agree, I continue to believe that golf is a force for good around the world, and that includes Saudi Arabia.”
In terms of Phil Mickelson, who has been the poster child of greed when it comes to spurning the PGA Tour for LIV Golf without considering the ramifications of aligning one’s self with the Saudi Arabian government, Norman says that he feels sorry for Lefty.
“Well, they needed a piñata, right?” asked Norman. “The negative people needed someone to take a swing at. Obviously, the thing that was written, that was one of the biggest obstacles ever thrown at (Mickelson). I feel sorry for Phil, I feel sorry it got out there. I feel sorry for Phil if it’s in any way true, then he put himself in a really tough position. And I’m happy for Phil because he understood the value of what LIV could do for him and where he wanted to go and look at the future. He was polarizing with the Tour because he realized his market value was underutilized.”
You can read the full interview here.