Australian golf legend Greg Norman has lashed out at critics of his Saudi-funded LIV Golf League this week, in a bizarre interview with Fox’s Tucker Carlson. On Sunday, the two-time major winner outlined, in stunning detail, his plans to revolutionise the sport of golf and bring a new energy to the gentleman’s game. Incredibly, Norman also revealed the staggering amount of money LIV offered to global sporting icon Tiger Woods in an effort to lure the GOAT to uncharted waters. Just how much was on the table? Try a whopping USD$800 million.
Sitting down with Carlson at former US president Donald Trump’s Bedminster golf course, Norman spoke candidly about the LIV Golf League. Just hours earlier, the final round of the third instalment in the global tournament had wrapped up, with 48 international golfers all vying for the USD$25 million prize pool. The enormous sum of money has been enough for Norman and his team to lure the likes of Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, but it hasn’t come without controversy. Fans have been quick to lambast the tournament for its ties to the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, citing a series of alleged human rights violations and possible links to terrorist activity.
Importantly the PGA Tour has stepped in, confirming that “members participating in the first LIV Golf tournament (including current members as well as those who had recently resigned) were no longer eligible” to compete in tour events or the Presidents Cup. A huge blow for those spectators looking to see big driving Bryson DeChambeau take to the course at the PGA event, the announcement mounted further pressure on players to pick a side, and not all of them have bowed.
While LIV Golf has been able to snare some major names in the sport, there is one big fish that has continued to elude them – Tiger Woods. Arguably the world’s greatest-ever golfer, Woods has an incredible ability to draw a crowd, something Norman acutely recognised. In June, the ‘Shark’ told The Washington Post that Woods had declined to join the tour, turning down a deal he described as “mind-blowingly enormous”. Assumed to be in the high nine figures, Wood’s payout would have changed the landscape of golf for good, but he was quick to show his loyalty to the PGA Tour.
“I disagree with it. I think that what they’ve done is they’ve turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position,” Woods told ESPN regarding the Championship. “I know what the PGA Tour stands for and what we have done and what the tour has given us, the ability to chase after our careers and to earn what we get and the trophies we have been able to play for and the history that has been a part of this game.”
Many have speculated if the salary reports were accurate and on Sunday, Norman let the cat out of the bag. In his interview with Fox, Carlson asked whether LIV Golf made an offer to Tiger Woods in the $700 million to $800 million range, which Norman confirmed.
“That number has been out there, yes,” Norman responded. “Tiger is a needle mover. So course you got to look at the best of the best. They had originally approached Tiger before I became CEO,” he said, “adding, “yes, that number is somewhere in that neighbourhood.”
You’ve got to hand it to Tiger – USD$800 million is a lot of money to turn down, particularly for a player returning from a massive injury. While Woods’ form on the course is still far from solid, one thing is for certain, it won’t be the last time Norman floats the idea of Tiger playing on the LIV Tour. Should that figure continue to rise, it would get harder and harder to walk away, especially when the Shark is circling.